Tag Archives: Traveling

Leaving NYC (Revisited)

This post was also published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 

Overview: Three years ago I wrote this essay, right before I left NYC. Since then, I’ve traveled to:Canada, Iceland, England, Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Hawaii, Norway, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey—and some of those places for second, third, and fourth times.
I’m going to Stockholm on Tuesday. Then Bangkok. Beyond that, there’s a lot of blank space on this map that has yet to be filled in with stars. I’m game for it all.

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I’ve never been very good at living according to conventional standards. Some people consider the height of accomplishment making it onto one of those 30 Under 30 lists. You probably won’t ever see me there, but by the time I turn 30 I will have traveled to 30 countries. Why be concerned with other people’s standards when you can create your own?

When I wrote this essay, I was being grated by the forces of NYC living. I knew something needed to change, and nobody was going to change it for me. So I decided to do what I like to call “shaking the Boggle board of life,” in the biggest way I’d tried yet. This essay was, in effect, me lighting a flame under my own ass—putting my resolve out there in public so I couldn’t back out. It was the best decision I ever made. Please don’t misunderstand me: my life is a roller coaster, and it’s not something most people would want, which is why they don’t choose to live this way. But it’s working for me, for now, and maybe forever. Maybe not, but I doubt any regrets I may have about spending my 20s in a state of manic orbit around the earth would outweigh the regrets I would have had if I’d stayed home. And honestly, I may not have made it to my 30s if I’d stayed home.

So here it is again, because something made me look for it today and I realized it wasn’t published on my own blog, but on Medium where, you never know, it might just evaporate. I wanted to preserve it on the (sort of) open web. I needed to remember my scrappy New York beginnings, because the things that happened there and the people I met still follow me around the world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Leaving NYC

By Arikia Millikan

Originally published on Medium, Mar 25, 2013

I moved to New York when I was 21 with two suitcases and a credit card. I had zero savings, zero checking, and didn’t know very many people in the city. I had a job lined up writing copy for exhibitions at the New York Hall of Science, but they called me the day before my flight to tell me that they’d just had a half million dollars of funding cut and couldn’t hire me after all. I had two choices: to get on the plane and figure it out, or stay in Ann Arbor, Michigan and figure it out.

In retrospect, there was only ever one option. I came here, clueless, nervous, broke, scared, but with a lust for life so great it propelled me past all the inhibitory emotions. I told myself from the very beginning that I would stay for five years. It was a seemingly arbitrary goal, but one that has never stopped making sense to me. Only after living here for five years, I told myself, could I say that I “made it” in New York City. But upon reaching five years, I would go, so as to not become jaded by the city. I didn’t have any ideas about how this would happen, but I had an image in my mind of the stereotypical New York spinster woman, hardened by success and embittered by all she’s seen. I decided this wouldn’t be me.

My first apartment was a second story walk-up on S. 4th street in Williamsburg with my very own fire escape outside of my bedroom window. Late at night, I would sit out there and smoke cigarettes while watching musicians move their instruments in and out of the practice space across the street. I wondered if I would ever be cool enough to hang out with them.

I had no idea what I was going to do for money or work, so I just began exploring. The guy I sublet the room from recommended a temp agency, so I decided to apply, but first I needed to make a copy of my passport. I was told I could do that at a place called The Internet Garage.

For the first month I lived in NYC, I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t have a smartphone then (it was 2008 but I was poor), so I would look up my destination on Google Maps on my computer — a 4-year old Adveratec, kept on life support with an external keyboard, hard drive, and cooling pad. I’d write the directions down on paper, or just try to remember them. When I would walk out of my apartment, sometimes I would start walking in the wrong direction. I’d wind up making three more turns in that same direction so as to not get completely lost and go home, defeated. The first time I tried to find the Internet Garage, I went to South 5th instead of North 5th and wound up in a slightly sketchy area thinking maybe I wasn’t cut out for New York.

The next day I tried again, with my hand-written map, and I found the Internet Garage, right off of Bedford Avenue. I suddenly understood what Williamsburg was all about. It was the place where a bunch of creative misfits could fit in amongst their peers for the first time in their lives. I asked the tattooed guy wearing a Yankees hat who helped me scan my passport behind the desk if I could work there. I told him I’d gone to school for engineering and was a fast learner. He arched an eyebrow at me and said most people who have worked there probably couldn’t do high school math. But if I really wanted a job, he’d think about it.

I applied with the temp agency and got hired at the world’s largest stock holding company, as a secretary. They told me I was to be an envelope-stuffing office monkey from 9-5 every day, and must abide by their dress code by wearing corporate attire. I shuddered to think. The night before I was to go in for fingerprinting and processing in the financial district at 9 o’clock in the morning, I went out with my pseudonymous blog stalker and wound up getting wasted and staying up until 7am making out on a rooftop overlooking Manhattan.

I just looked up the actual email I sent to the agency when I woke up and realized I’d slept through the meeting, and it is pretty hilariously Arikia-ish:

Dear Camille,

I just woke up and realized that I missed my meeting. I don’t really know how it happened – I remember setting my alarm last night before I went to bed – but I have some idea as to why it happened. I don’t think I want to work at DTCC, and my subconscious mind made that happen. Actually, I don’t want to work at any corporation. I’m a writer and I want to write. I ‘m done doing meaningless work just because someone said so. That’s what a lot of college was, and I graduated.

So, please relay my apologies onto Michael and Jamie over at DTCC that I’m sorry for wasting their time. I suppose I’m sorry for wasting your time as well.

Best of luck to you,

Arikia

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my real life “The Devil’s Advocate” scenario, and my decision set me on the trajectory that would fulfill all of my New York dreams.

Later that day, after my hangover subsided, I went to retrieve my passport, which I had forgotten in the scanner at the Internet Garage, and lo and behold, they hired me. For $8/hr, I got to blog my little heart out while I helped people use the Internet Garage’s ridiculously ‘90s machines to get online. And I was happy. Some of my fondest New York memories were made in that place, and it provided all the fodder I needed to find my footing in the online media world.

With the Internet Garage as my base of operations, I became a fixture among the creative misfits, quickly becoming part of the barter system that propped up the struggling artist class in Williamsburg. If someone identified themselves as a Bedford Avenue vendor, I would give them prints and internet usage with a wink and a smile. To repay me, people invited me into their slivers of Williamsburg, and I got to experience it all. One night, some musicians I met at a bar invited me back to drink beers at the practice space across from my old apartment. I stayed up all night learning how to play piano.

In those days, I would sit on the rooftop of my Hope Street sublet and stare out at the Manhattan skyline for hours, wondering what paths I would take to make my way to the top of one of those skyscrapers. Last year, I would stare for hours out of the window of my office on the 19th floor of 4 Times Square, thinking about how I had managed to achieve my lifelong dream of working at Wired so soon, scared shitless about what that meant for the rest of my life. Had I peaked at 25?

Thinking about my five year quota now, with the deadline approaching July 8, it makes more sense to me than ever to leave. I won New York City. I did, I beat it. I came here with nothing, and I survived. I’m not any richer than I was when I came here, which to some, might not constitute winning. Before I started writing this blog post, I was being kind of mopey about just that — about the fact that five years later I am still struggling to pay my bills every month just like I did when I first moved here. But after reflecting on everything, I realized that what I gained in the past five years is impossible to buy: I made a name for myself.

Now, it’s time to leave. I am tired. The old rooftop where I used to perch is sealed off with fences and motion detectors, and the view is obscured by luxury condos anyways. The Internet Garage moved, and it will never be what it used to be. The way this city chews people up and spits them out is almost vulgar, and I am tired of watching it. I am tired of struggling to stay on top. I can feel my shell beginning to harden, and it’s not a good look for me. Plus, the fact that I’ve sustained myself for so long makes me think I could be tossed into any environment and somehow figure stuff out. So, I’m going to try that, and hopefully find the same inspiration in new places that I once got from New York. I’m going to take my show on the road and keep looking for the things I didn’t find in New York: love, inner peace, financial success. I know that life may not ever be easy for me, I think I would die of boredom if it was, but right now I need to find environments that will nurture the skills I’ve been developing. I need room to breathe, as anyone who’s ever lived in New York knows, there’s not a whole lot of space here.

So, New Yorkers, you have three months and some change to squeeze the last of the New York hustle out of me, and I do intend to hustle. And then off into the world I will go, testing Frank Sinatra’s theory that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It’s been real.

Recalculating my Trajectory

This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 

Overview: It’s been three glorious weeks since I said sayonara to Remote Year, and I regret nothing. Some of you have been asking: What happened? Why did I leave? Where am I going next? Ok, here’s the short version.

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Starting over is never easy, but it does get easier. I know this because I’ve had to do it a lot. I moved five times before my brain could even form accessible memories. Then I moved when I was three, ten, 16 (my senior year of high school), 17 (for college), 21 (to NYC) and so many times over the past three years that the line between moving and traveling has ceased to exist. The early decisions weren’t mine to make, but in being forced to abandon everything familiar and start anew so many times, I gained awareness of a trait that many people don’t realize the extent to which it exists in us all: adaptability.

Now when I start over, I’m not subject to the same trauma/drama I was starting sixth grade as the new girl. I don’t wonder if I’ll be able to find a cozy dwelling with strong WiFi, or if ever make friends again; I know these things are inevitabilities.

Having an awareness of one’s adaptability also makes it much easier to decide when to stay and when to go. When you know that things will work out in the next chapter, because they did before—even when you were nestled in a pit of despair and thought you’d never laugh again—you’re more inclined to say “enough” and move on when an environment is toxic. You’re less likely to be bound by the fear of the unknown that keeps so many people from removing themselves from oppressive situations, especially when others are benefiting from keeping them there and will do things to make the alternative seem much scarier than it is.

A lot of people have asked me why I left Remote Year, and while there’s a much longer story that details the utter shit show that myself and several others experienced over the course of our time in the program, it essentially comes down to the fact that I left because I am well-equipped at A) recognizing a toxic environment when I am in one, and B) removing myself from it swiftly. I’ve also gotten pretty good at baiting arrogant people into removing me from the hellish microcosms they create, thereby eliminating the legal/financial/social burdens that can sometimes accompany an act of quitting on one’s own accord.

Basically friends, you forked over your hard-earned money to support my year-long journey, and once my journalist nose told me something was foul in the top tiers of Remote Year, I wasn’t going to spend another dime of it on the frat boy frauds who are running it. It took them six weeks to notice I’d stopped paying them and do something about it, so by my count that reimbursed the $3k “non-refundable” deposit I put down when all I got was a stupid t-shirt. So yes, I was officially kicked out, but I didn’t really give them a choice.

To answer the other question I’ve been getting repeatedly, no I’m not coming home just because Remote Year didn’t work out. I’d hoped initially that Remote Year would be a logical facilitator of two of the things I love most: writing and traveling. It turned out it was the antithesis of both those things, but I know know to do them on my own. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. I’m not sure how, at this point, or where exactly I’ll go. But I am sure that I will come back to the US from the other side eventually.

I won’t sugarcoat it: having to recalibrate my steering at this point has taken a lot of energy out of me, and my funds are running short. I’m taking a flight to Turkey tomorrow and I only have a place booked for the next three days, but I’ll figure it out. That’s the fun part—”the journey is the destination,” remember? Being forced to leave Remote Year was the best possible outcome for my life, and the past three weeks I’ve spent in Berlin have catalyzed more emotional and intellectual growth than any amount of time with Remote Year.

Now, I’m working on an article to ensure that anyone else who’s tempted by the too-good-to-be-true description on the website and all the fluff PR the founders periodically pump out knows exactly what they’re signing up for. I’m also working on editing a great book written by a pretty kickass woman, doing genetic research for a pretty noble biotech company (who have both been super patient while I got my shit together after this nightmare episode), and I’ll continue chronicling my journey for you all.

There are miles of stories to be told between where I left off and where I am now. I’ve been to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, to the most epic Slovenian wedding in history, and now here I sit in Berlin: bags packed, ready to explore Istanbul for the first time. Then onward into the rest of the world, doing it my way, the right way: respectfully, responsibly, thoughtfully, and with the intent to leave the places and people I encounter better than I found them.

Adapting to Superimposed Tribal Affiliations Abroad

This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 
Overview: What happens when 70 people, all with varying degrees of travel experience—and life experience—drop their lives to move half-way around the world where a community structure is superimposed on them all? The best reality show couldn’t capture the chaos of our first month on Remote Year.

 

It’s been a month, and I miss Brooklyn—or rather, the people in Brooklyn. I miss the ones who have proven their loyalty over the years, and the wild newcomers who cautiously enter my local haunts with wide, mischievous eyes. I didn’t join Remote Year to make friends; I wanted to travel without worrying about logistics, write freely, be enveloped by other cultures, and most of all, I wanted to continue to strengthen the parts of myself that are weak so that I can be a better friend to those I care about. Previously, I’d found that traveling forced me to confront the parts I tend to like to bury; the strangers I met along the way provided a risk-free way to experiment with unleashing those demons honestly. I thought that as long as I was traveling, I’d be growing and bettering myself. I was wrong.

This past month, traveling and living with the 70 strangers who also signed up for Remote Year has been undeniably transformative. But it blindsided me, prompting a regression that pulled me back, mentally, to the bowels of hell that were my high school years.

It’s not because of anything any one person said or did that I’ve felt at times overwhelmed by discontent, channeling my inner pissed off teenager. As far as I’ve been able to gather through introspection, it’s because of the sociological dynamics that occur when you take a group of human beings—any group, of any size—and confine them to the same place, declaring them a tribe. In Prague, the organizers attempted to impose unnatural bonding rituals on us reminiscent of what I can only imagine is some cross between a summer camp ritual and Welcome Week at a fraternity. I never attended either, and it wasn’t really on my bucket list.

One of the main things I learned from my previous travels was how to be alone without being lonely. Such a joy was this newfound ability and all it did for my productivity and overall mental health, that I think in the past year while working from home in NYC, I unknowingly began to cross the line between lone wolf and hermit. I constricted my social circle, squeezing out the leaches, the fools, anyone who would drain the well without ever replenishing it. And I cut out the few rare birds who had the ability to send me spiraling down a well of despair because I cared too much and they couldn’t hold me. I learned how to hold myself.

The first month in Prague, being so far away from home and thrust into a tribal affiliation with 70 strangers from very different worlds… it was far more disorienting of a transition than I’d anticipated. I’d kind of expected them to be like me, whatever that means. What I should have guessed though, was that they would be more like the organizers. After all, if God created man in his own image, why wouldn’t they populate their nomadic utopia with people they felt represented or complemented theirs? One night I sat up at night panicking after coming to the realization that I was likely surrounded by people who were into Greek life, small talk and marketing, wondering if I’d somehow managed to escape into my own personal vision of hell.

I cringed as the competitions for the alpha male slot ensued. Nobody won. Every conversation in a group setting involved someone needing to one-up another. Peacock feathers were on full display as they verbally jousted, vying for… I don’t know what. Status? It’s only been a month and so far there have been five injuries. Cliques seemed to materialize left and right, as every event that required leaving the house, even to go a block, was painstakingly organized on Slack so as to not result in one being “without the group.”

I found myself desperately trying to escape the group, wandering alone and slipping out of organized activities early. It wasn’t that I was trying to escape any individual person, I just needed to get away from the sensory overload of the group. I can’t think when my head is filled with chatter, and I certainly can’t write. So I’d peel away, decline invitations, and feel like I did in high school when I’d skip out to smoke cigarettes in the parking lot and chill out with my best friend.

In doing this, I ultimately realized that there are more people like me here than unlike me. I think the universal primate-impulses that were causing the herding, the loudness, the stupid pissing matches that put people in the hospital—they alienated those of us who had moved past that phase in life and pushed us 180 degrees around the circle to meet on the other side and bond, one by one. Now that it’s clear that it’s not just 70 of us stranded together abroad, that it’s the 70 of us and the 70,000 other people surrounding us at any given point as we move around the world, the ones who pushed the hardest to impose a summer camp template on what we were doing will slowly wander over to explore other ways to live.

I didn’t come here to make friends, but the ones I’ve made so far, I wouldn’t trade.

Now here in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where there are no five-story clubs filled with piss-drunk gap year Brits or droves of trashy tourists, where there is an abundance of quaintness and nature and nonstop sunshine, and you can ride into these things on a bicycle at any moment, everyone is starting to chill out. And I’m coming out of my turtle shell, little by little.

The Journey is the Destination

This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 
Overview

I spent the past 48 hours traveling 3,500 miles away from home. The trip wasn’t the straight line it was slated to be, but that’s OK. Whenever I set out, I remember that the journey is the destination.

I’m sitting in the JFK international terminal waiting to board after a 24 hour delay. The four Norwegian girls sitting across from me are giggling the way girls everywhere do. A lanky guy with a backwards hat and club kid vibe just exclaimed “Scheiße” upon finding all the outlets were full. All the loose ends have been tied. The bags have been packed, the records have been digitized, and the apartment has been sublet. All the goodbyes have been said, drunk and teary and screaming into the New York City night.

The journey has begun.

On the cab ride to the airport I felt lighter. There are so many things I’ve missed about traveling. I’ve missed living out of a suitcase and knowing that all the objects I posses I can carry. I’ve missed listening to foreign chatter and making up my own stories for what people are talking about. I’ve missed waking up energized for exploration, and falling asleep physically exhausted rather than dragging myself awake with coffee and forcing my noisy mind to sleep pharmaceutically. I’ve missed being “the foreigner” to everyone around me, and most of all, I’ve missed being always inspired to write because everything is so new and strange and wonderful.

Before I left on my first trip, a friend of mine showed me a travel journal of Dan Eldon, a Kenyan photojournalist who died too young. It was called The Journey is the Destination, and that’s what I tell myself every time I go anywhere. He’s the reason I started keeping travel journals and scrap books to document my adventures. Some people get frustrated when they encounter obstacles that force a curvy path rather than a straight line from point A to B. I try to see obstacles as part of the trip. Traveling is a lot more fun when your 24-hour flight delay turns into an excuse to rage with your best friends at Japanese speakeasies for one last night, a seven-hour flight with no WiFi or in-flight entertainment creates opportunities to break in the new notebooks, and an eight-hour layover becomes a challenge to conquer Oslo’s public transport system and make the most out of a totally perfect day.

After my 48 hour journey traveling 3,500 miles away from home, I’ve finally reached my destination. It’s 1:10am in Prague right now and I’ve just settled into my new home-away-from-home for the next month. It’s in the attic of a hotel where Einstein and Kafka have purportedly stayed, is filled with walnut furniture, and has a view of a castle. It’s nice to be back in the old country. Tomorrow I’ll go claim my new desk at a Czech co-working space, meet my new travel companions in the Remote Year crew, and find some locals to show me around town. But now, I sleep. It feels great to be exhausted again.

(Up next: A photo-essay about how I spent 8 my hours in Oslo.)

Packing is the Easy Part

This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 
Overview: Everyone always asks how I leave. How do I clear out my apartment and pack my whole life into a suitcase, knowing that it will essentially be my portable house for the next year. Well I’ll tell you: everything gets really weird the week before I leave, and packing is the least of my concerns.

 

You know in action movies when an explosion is triggered under water, and all the surrounding matter gets sucked in for a few seconds before being expelled outward in a burst of kinetic energy? That’s kind of what the week before traveling is like for me. When I opened my eyes this morning, I was gripped by an odd nostalgia and realized I felt the same way that I did two years ago when I realized I only had a week left in NYC—like everything was moving in reverse.

I now have one week to prepare for my second trip around the world. The next few days will be exhausting as I run around the city sealing up loose ends. Time seems abundant and scarce at the same time. I’ve already ordered all my gear and have everything I need in proximity. I’ve thrown the things I want to pack into the suitcase but I’ll probably just look at it in the middle of the living room floor this whole week, sprinkling items on top as I remember that I need them. I’ll do this until the last possible moment when the fact that my flight leaves tomorrow will hit me like an adrenaline injection to the heart. Maybe medically this is a panic attack, I don’t know, but it will power me through a 24 hour packing rampage that somehow reaches completion the minute before I need to leave for the airport.

But packing is the easy part.

It’s always in that last week that somehow I will stumble into an improbable love connection that could maybe practically work, even though the previous year has yielded nothing but boredom and heartbreak. My ideal house pet will fall into my lap (or literally, fly into my apartment like a budgie did last time), even though in months of searching pet adoption sites, nothing seemed to quite fit. The meeting I’d been requesting for 6 months will finally get scheduled—for the week after I leave. And, as history repeating itself would dictate, the inevitable weird job offer will come knocking, but I’m only eligible for if I stay. Last time it was something so lucrative but so out of left field that I asked the headhunter if she was sure she was talking with the right person. That’s another story.

Thanks but no thanks.

I shake it off and keep prepping.

Meanwhile, there is the ambush of invitations from the people who need to tell me one last thing, face-to-face: the apology, the confession, or the exploration of the possible “moment” we had that I was oblivious to but you purposely ignored because we were too good of friends to go there. The “I really need to see you before you go”s. The sentiment is appreciated, but at the same time it makes me feel like there’s a secret death pool going on behind my back, like I’m the final painting of an aging artist.

I plan a rooftop BBQ so everyone can feel good about me leaving.

I refuse to do anything that isn’t familiar, because nothing will be familiar to me for the next year.

I’m trying to find the best way to digitize all the notebooks I obsessively fill and constantly reference but won’t bring with me because every ounce of luggage matters.

Then there’s the hard part: the reassuring my friends that this isn’t goodbye forever. It’s squeezing in all the “last” late-night whiskey prowls we can manage, savoring the “last” laughs, holding on longer than necessary in the “last” hugs. It’s knowing that the next time I see them again we’ll all be different people, and hoping that whatever happens in the time between doesn’t drive a cultural wedge between us that would have us look upon each other as strangers at our next encounter. It’s reminding myself over and over again that it never happens that way, and that even 10 years apart isn’t enough to delete a true human connection. It’s convincing the ones who are always there for me that I’m not leaving because they’re not enough for me, but because I feel whole enough to do this now because of them. It’s crying like a fool because I hate goodbyes.

It’s trying not to be melodramatic because it’s not like I’m going to war or something. Unless someone wants to pay me to write about it. Then I would.

Experience vs. documentation

I’ve been back in the US for a little over five months now, but it feels like only yesterday that I was crossing the Pacific, all choked up because I had just accomplished the most difficult thing I have ever set out to do. I’ve never felt more healthy, more alive, than I did during my year of circumnavigating the globe. And I go back to those places every day in my mind.

It may happen when I open the fridge, or lace up my shoes. Suddenly, I’m opening the fridge in the apartment I rented from a techno DJ in Berlin, or lacing up my shoes to leave my bungalow in the south of Thailand and hop on my motorbike to go exploring. And for a split second, I get lost there, and I smile to myself before being jolted back to the task at hand. I will always have the memories of that year, and they will forever change the way I see where I am at any given moment in my usual life.

The other day a friend asked me if I was writing the whole time I was traveling. I was. I was writing every day. I filled notebook after notebook with descriptions of places and experiences and bizarre encounters with characters of all walks of life. Then he asked me how I balanced experiencing life with documenting it—the greatest challenge of any travel writer. And the truth is, I didn’t and I don’t. I have too much energy right now, in this stage in my life, to possibly stop living and experiencing everything long enough to document it all properly.

But I know that some day I won’t. Someday I will be anchored to places I haven’t yet been by circumstances I can’t anticipate. I will be slower, and my joints will ache. I’ll probably still want to stay up as late as I do, because anyone who knows me knows my night-owlness is pathological. But my late-night forays probably won’t involve romping through the desert or scaling rooftops to watch the sun come up in the distant future. Someday I will have more time on my hands than I will know what to with, and more responsibilities than I ever wanted. I will finally be bored. Or, maybe, ideally, someone will offer me enough money to compel me to stop experiencing and sit my ass in a chair long enough to write something of worth. It is then that I will travel back around the world in my mind, and properly document all the events of my crazy life that I’ve been meticulously archiving via a system of notes and letters to my future self.

I don’t balance experiencing with documenting; I stockpile experiences and prepare for the balance to come via the entropic forces of nature.

In the mean while, I’m writing a book proposal. I’ll keep blogging. I’m building a platform that allows do-ers like me to write more, better, faster, and be heard farther. That way if I do become a cyborg and I never have to stop experiencing, or if I get hit by a bus before I’m 30 or whatever, I’ll have said enough of what I wanted to say by then. And there’s always this wagon wheel of a blog.

The Plan Is There Is No Plan

Over the past week, I packed up my entire life. I donated about 70% of my things to various outlets, stored 20%, gave away 5% in the form of specialized care packages for my close friends, and packed the rest into two suitcases and a laptop bag. This morning, I left New York.

So long, New York!

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Let it be known that when I say I’m going to do something, I don’t fuck around. As someone who tends to get paralyzed by her tendency to over-analyze things, probably the most helpful thing I’ve learned how to do as an adult is how to light a fire under my own ass. I highly recommend it.

The second most helpful thing I’ve learned is how to wing it. Which is in large part what I’m doing. So apologies to all the people I’ve dodged or maybe even gotten irritated at for asking me what my plan is. Who needs a plan? I’ve got everything I need to live and the desire to do so to the max. There is no plan.

However, there is a goal. I am going to go completely around the world — with no plan other than to not stay in any one place for longer than a month.

Today I arrived in LA, my starting point. Hello, LA!

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For those of you who have stayed up at night ruminating over where I’m going because I pointedly ignored you when you asked (sorry!), I will be writing about my journey. Surely you didn’t think I was going to just go totally off-grid for a year like that guy, did you? Don’t you fret, my darling friends. The Millikan Daily will persist, and I’ll continue writing formally at all the usual outlets and a few new ones I’ll fill you in on soon.

For now, I’ll give you a few peaks of my starting point. I’m rolling in style (obvi) in my new Portovelo Shoes (courtesy of my friends at Small Girls — thanks Mal and Bianca!). I bought a magazine for the first time in a while today because this cover was all too awesome for an aspiring cyborg/technophile such as myself.IMG_20130528_001524

For the next two weeks I’ll be staying at the Advance Camps loft in Downtown LA, working with an amazing team of architects, designers, and builders who are creating North America’s premiere nomadic camp for creative exploration. I’m here to teach, but also here to learn everything I can about being a nomad.

First order of business: napping in the alpha dome :)

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Photo by Carson Linforth Bowley

Second order of business: Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen! A reminder to keep my eye on the finish line: Japan.

IMG_20130528_001907 Third order of business: catching up on sleep.

Over and out.