The Vacation Chronicles

I haven’t had a real vacation since… well, it’s been a while. I spent 10 days in Negril in 1995, and since then I’ve taken plenty of short trips, but other than three cruises, I’ve always been plugged in to work.

Not this time. I love my job, but I need a break. There’s a quote from Bertrand Russell’s Conquest of Happiness (which I’ve never read but totally have on reserve from the library): “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” I love the Gabber – and all the writing I do, really, however, the Gabber constitutes the bulk of my income – but, at the end of the day, we’re not treating cancer or building the space shuttle. We’re covering parades and council meetings about sleeping in public. I find I’m having to remind myself of that with disturbing frequency. That’s how I know it’s time for a break, lest I end up on Beach Boulevard in a thunderstorm, on my knees and shaking my fist at the heavens screaming, “Whyyyyyyyyy?”

Probably not a bad time to unplug.

I also haven’t written that much for me lately, and I miss it. This blog used to be my best friend, but lately it’s more of a distant cousin that I see at weddings and promise to get together with more. I never do, of course, but the intention remains. I’m sitting here now, with a mouthful of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and a Corona Light, digging on the fact that I’m able to write without regard to word count, who it pisses off, or its relation to south Pinellas county. I’m just writing because it feels good. I need to do that more.
My former professor and chum Thom Hallock says that writing for pay ruins the writer, and he may be right. Of course, I’m not giving it up. I’m instead going to try, yet again, to strike a balance, and that starts with two-plus weeks where I don’t write a thing with an eye towards getting paid.
Here’s what I will do:
I will unplug from work. I’ve done enough work in advance that it won’t kill me to actually take a break and, honestly, I feel like everyone needs a break from me. I turned in a few columns before I signed off at the paper, and one was so happy-clappy-syrupy that I fear the entire town will be insulin dependent when I return. Of course, thankfully, no one pays attention to me, so I figure we’re all in the clear.
I will post, once a day, for the hell of it. Even if it sucks. Even if all I do is rave about my newly organized spice collection (actually, that was yesterday, Day One of The Vacation).
I will read. I have a stack of books waiting for me, from trashy romance to The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, and a few photography manuals thrown in for fun. I will read them, feet up, relaxed, and indulgent. I would really like to read Dante’s Inferno, but I want to see if I can get that on my iPad for the plane ride because…
I will go to Costa Rica. This I must credit to my better half, El Cap. A few months ago he asked me where I wanted to go on vacation this year (usually in September, for a myriad of reasons not germane to this post), and I told him that he indulged me for almost a month of road tripping around Florida last year; this year, he should pick with little regard for me. A few weeks ago, he walked into my office.
El Cap: You’ve been to Costa Rica and Belize, right?
Me: Well, I’ve sort of been to Belize, but never Costa Rica. And I only went to an island off Belize on a cruise. I visited Roatan, but that, too was on a cruise.
El Cap: <leaves room>
A few days later, he walks into my office (again).
El Cap: I would like to go to Costa Rica on my vacation.
Me: Either you are the biggest dick in the world or you’re offering to take me.*
Me: Oh?
El Cap: And I’d like to take you.
Me: <indecipherable squeals of delight>
Mine is infinitely more colorful. And also far less deadly…
So we’re boarding a plane to Costa Rica soon. I am not a great flyer. Oh, I love small planes, but I’ve spent more time in them than I have big ones. Whatever. I feel like it’s a useless phobia, because there is no way in hell I’m not going to Costa Rica. We’re staying by a volcano. They have rain forests. They have the frog – in real life! – that I had tattooed on my lower back as a 30th birthday gift to myself. So the possibility of fiery death over the Gulf seems like a paltry risk to take to see the frog on my back not on my back. Also, we’ll have a private Jacuzzi on our terrace, in view of the volcano. I love everything about that sentence. I also love that I worked frogs and volcanos into a real discussion about my life.
Oh, back to what I will do. Knitting. I have this shawl I started for my friend Kelli when doctors told her she had breast cancer. I figured it’d be awesome for the winter to keep her nekked head warm. She’s, uh, done with treatment and regrowing hair, but she’s going to Paris next month, so maybe she can still use it. Also, Tash and Bonny are both having kids, so I could knit some baby stuff. Babies are tiny; their stuff doesn’t take long.
And my puzzle. I’ve had it for about six years. I started it last month. It’s a small victory, but if I can finish it by the end of my vacation, I’ll count it as a victory.
Pictures. I have a brand new Nikon D7000 waiting for me, as of today. I intend to use the hell out of it over the next two weeks. I also intend to print out the best photos for framing, because I’m tired of other people’s work hanging in my house.
Random: I’ll also watch the US Open (as I did today) and Doc Martin, sleep late (today was 7:05 a.m., but hope springs eternal), and go through my books and donate the ones I neither need nor want. And by “donate” I mean “bring to Small Adventures in Gulfport for credit so I can buy more.”
Finally, I will not work. Not even a little. Yesterday I cleaned the house, reorganized my spices, and went to dinner at Pia’s. Today I went to Mazzaro’s, read, and started setting up my camera before we ate clams at PJs. So far, no work. This is easier than I thought.
I hope. If only I can sleep past 7:05 tomorrow morning…
*I, of course, only said this to myself, because I’ve learned with El Cap to wait out the rest of the story.

Published by


I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.