What's it all about?Ever since I was a kid, I imagined myself one day being some sort of cosmopolitan citizen of the world. I've always had a fascination with different people and their cultures, and of course, how they communicate, my whole life I've dreamed of a jet-setting life exploring the world and learning from its people, moving freely from country to country, dealing comfortably with everyone I meet. Kind of like James Bond when he's between assignments. Unfortunately, society teaches us that's not realistic. In kindergarten, our teachers tell us we can grow up to be anything we want, but then every year after that, we are beaten down into this mold of the life everyone else wants us to live — work at a steady job, relax in front of a television, vacation once a year, and save for retirement. But that's not compatible with my dreams! My interests found their way out. In high school, I studied Spanish, German, and French. When most of my classmates couldn't be bothered to make an effort in one foreign language, I was getting good marks in all three. Later, I did the work of reaching Fluency in Spanish on my own, without any class. Instead of listening to music on my iPod, I listened to Italian conversations. Instead of playing techno CDs in my car, I drove around listening to Portuguese lessons. It's just what I enjoyed. But I always felt like I had to hide my interest. When guests came to my apartment and saw my bookshelf, they'd ask me "why?" And not that curious "why" that gets you to open up, but that judgmental "why" that makes you feel like you're doing something wrong.
It's not wrongThe life I always wanted was inspired by a world that existed in the '70s and '80s — back when the Soviet Union was closed off, East Germany inaccessible, China was a big scary place... and there was no internet! But people were doing it then. Not a lot, but enough. Maybe not James Bond (though there probably were a few!), but world travelers have always existed. Today, thanks to the wonders of satellite television, budget travel, and the world wide web, most of the world is now an open ground. The scary propaganda can't compete because the truth moves at the speed of light! The world isn't a big scary place any more, it's a collection of very reachable destinations. Even on a modest income, it is possible to go all over the world and see new things, meet new people, learn about other cultures, and do all those things that I dreamed of as a kid. The only thing left are excuses.
PrioritiesWhen you believe that your dreams are impossible, you don't do the work of trying to reach them. Instead, you fill your life with trivial things to keep your mind off of what you really want. And that's what I did for a long time. But once I woke up to the realization that it is possible, some things had to change. It became important to pay off the debts, both financial and mental, that I had built up. Travel is cheaper and easier today than it ever has been, but it still costs money, and it's hard to justify doing it when you already have debts. So I made a plan, set my mind on it, and paid off all of my debts, returned all of the favors I owed, and washed my hands of any obligations to anyone else. It's also difficult to spend a great deal of time traveling when you have a lot of responsibilities at home. It became important to have a simple, easy-to-maintain home. No more pets. No more collections and trinkets. No more huge closets full of crap I don't wear. And if I'm going to be spending a lot of time away, I need to have bills I can afford to pay even if I'm working less. This means a smaller apartment and lower utility costs. It also mean living more simply at home: making fewer impulse purchases, dealing with fewer "gadgets", ending any subscriptions to newspapers or magazines. Oh, and I got rid of my biggest expense: my car!
Living the dreamThe main focus of this web site is, of course, learning languages. Specifically, I will be learning one new language every year. But it should always be remembered that language is a means, not an end. This is all en route to the bigger goal — becoming the citizen of the world... the cosmopolitan traveler I always dreamed of being. In the first six months since I started this site, I already had several hundred readers, many of them actively commenting. After the first year, my readers numbered into the thousands. So having successfully created the pressure of an audience, it's time to set some expectations. All of you — my readers, fans, followers, and friends — all of you will keep me on track as I reach for, and achieve, all those things I always dreamed of doing. No more excuses.
Interesting facts about meMeanwhile, here are some interesting facts about me:
- After I was audited by the IRS they ended up owing me!
- On a visit to Washington DC, I snuck into the Spy Museum. It seemed fitting.
- When I was in Uzbekistan, I ate horse.
- I have been a member at my fitness club longer than I've been at any job. Or with any girlfriend.
- I believe that people often say "it's the least I could do" when they really mean "I wish I could do more."
- I know what an ibrik is, and I'm not afraid to use it.
- My favorite meal is breakfast.
- I've found the things that grab my attention are rarely the same as those things that hold my attention.
- I once shot out a candle's flame with a rifle from 20 feet away.
- I slapped a prostitute in Barcelona for touching my ass.
- I never use an alarm clock.
- I have been to all 48 of the continental United States.