Sunday, April 29, 2007

4 months, 1 backpack

I don't really consider myself high maintenance (I can feel your eyes rolling, Mr. W). But attempting to pack one large backpack for four months would be a daunting task for any average female. Seriously, one pair of jeans? It gives me minor panic attacks just thinking about it.

I am not accustomed to clothes shopping for functionality purposes. Dick's isn't where I usually go to update my wardrobe. So you can imagine my surprise when I found that they make pants that turn into shorts that turn into a sleeping bag and a parachute. Everything is multi-purpose-- quick-drying, waterproof, fire retardant, and reversible. And unfortunately, most leave much to be desired in terms of aesthetics. I've had to do my best to let my snobbery go, remember my purpose for this trip, and try to pack accordingly.

So ladies, prepare yourself for this...deep's what I'm taking: ONE, yes, literally, one pair of jeans. A pair of cargo pants that can snap up into capris. A pair of actual capris, and a pair of shorts. 2 sundresses. Lots of tank tops, cause they can fold into 1" x 1" squares, a bathing suit, a sarong (that will also serve as a blanket or towel), 3 pair of socks, a zillion pair of underwear (the one thing I refuse to wear over and over) a light weight rain jacket, a hoodie, and 4 pairs of shoes--tennis shoes, 2 pair of flip-flops and one wedge sandal (my splurge).

Toiletry-wise, I'm bringing a little make-up, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bug spray with deet (a necessity says Dr. Disease, can't get Malaria if you don't get bitten), advil, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc, etc. All in 3 oz. or less containers, otherwise I'll have to leave them at Port Columbus...because I'm not checking my bag.

Imagine, a 4 month trip with so little luggage that you can carry it on the plane. After wanting to hyperventilate into a paper bag, I do feel a slight bit of pride. I'm going to be wearing the same thing day after day after day...and you know what? I don't care. (Ok, I'm getting there at least...I almost don't care) This trip is not about my wardrobe or lack thereof. Plus, I learned the hard way from my last trip to Thailand, carrying all of your belongings on your back can get really heavy, especially if you are only 5'3" and your backpack is almost your size.

For those of you who have traveled extensively, I know this really isn't that big a deal--people do it all the time, right? But, this is a first for me and it's taken quite a bit of deep thought and consideration to figure out which articles of clothing make the final cut.

So, please think of me as you are walking through Nordstrom's shoe department and tell Anthropologie that I'll miss it dearly, but I will return in September to buy something that cannot hold up against a monsoon but looks really freakin' cute.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dr. Disease

On Thursday I went to a doctor who specializes in travel immunizations to get all of my necessary shots for the trip (fun, fun). Before the needles, he talked with me about where I was going, what shots were needed and how to stay safe and healthy. He broke my trip down into 3 groups--the first: Japan and Europe, the second: Thailand, India, Nepal, and Morocco, the third was Ghana, in a group of its own.

For the first group I didn't need anything. For the second group he was most concerned about food and water borne diseases so he recommended Hepatitis A and Typhoid. For Ghana, I had to get a Yellow Fever vaccination or else I can't even enter the country. Ghana is also the only country that he was worried about Malaria so he gave me a prescription that I should fill if I decide to venture outside of the capital city, Accra.

I got two shots--Yellow Fever and Hep A. He gave me pills for Typhoid which I am taking now. 4 pills every other day for 8 days. I think it's made me feel a little nauseous but nothing too bad. So I have all kinds of cool antibodies streaming through my body right now.

Obviously, the shots sucked, but what impacted me the most during the consult was when the doc said "Based on the places you have chosen to go, I need you to listen to me carefully...Do NOT have sex. Do NOT get a tattoo. Do NOT do drugs. Do NOT have a blood transfusion. YOU WILL GET AIDS."

Point blank. Just like that. You will get AIDS. It gave me chills. I am not naive in thinking that some of the places we have chosen to go are going to be a big resort vacation. But that sentence, that bluntly, really drilled home how serious it is to be careful when traveling.

So, I will heed his advice, wrap myself in saran wrap for 4 months and only travel by double decker tour buses...

In all seriousness, if you are planning a trip, the doctor I went to was great, he has been all over the world and knows what he's talking about. It cost me $340-- but better safe than sorry.

Here is his info: Dr. Disease.

15 days...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Mantra

So I am in the middle of writing a paper (that's due at midnight tonight) and it brought up so many unrelated thoughts that I wanted to get those down in writing too. These psychology papers tend to do that. I start thinking and stray waaaay far from what I am supposed to be writing. Sometimes I think that's what the professors want us to do-- the courses seem to be as much about self-exploration and discovery as they are about the content of the course.

Since I sent out my first blog I have received such awesome responses, reminding me what wonderfully supportive friends I have. It was so great to hear from all of you. But, I also got a lot of "What in the world is going on with you???" emails. I guess I shoulda thought about how this would probably throw some of you for a loop if I haven't talked to you personally for a while.

So let me rewind a bit... My life has changed pretty drastically in the past six months. After 7 years in advertising, I've decided to go back to school for my Master's in Counseling Psychology. Naturally, right? I'm enrolled in a 2.5 year program at Seton Hall University, and can do the majority of my classes remotely. I graduate spring of '09, and will then have to become licensed (so I can be reimbursed by insurance companies). Ultimately, I'd like to have a private practice, but that'll take a while to build. I'm not even sure what type of counseling I want to focus on yet--marriage and family, mental health, addictions, etc...maybe this trip will help bring some clarity to those types of questions.

Sadly, after almost 4 years of marriage, Leslie and I are no longer together. I moved back to Columbus from Salt Lake in December. Since then I've been living with my parents...uh, yeah. Love you mom and dad. But still...yeah. I'm 29 going on 16 right now.

I went to visit Tiffany in Thailand in Dec/Jan for a much needed vacation. She’s been living there for the past 5 months (A whole separate blog...) and has invited me to do some traveling with her. She's on a 2 yr trip around the world and things have miraculously fallen into place to allow me the time and the means to join her for a bit. Leslie and I sold our condo in Salt Lake so I am taking part of the profit to fund my trip. (Had to be responsible and save some of it for school loans...) Incidentally, the lease on my car is up and my second semester is ending, all at the end of the month. (Although a new one starts a week later, so it’s going to take some serious discipline to keep up on my school work while traveling) But really, timing couldn’t be better.

Needless to say, sometimes I still feel like my head is spinning. So that's where this paper I am writing and my in-a-nutshell recent history tie together. My paper is a Career Conceptualization paper--where I am supposed to take a counseling theory and apply it to how I got to where I am right now career-wise. Ha! Career?? I am currently working 25 hours a week at a bank... and I am complete mess when it comes to all things finance. (Thank God the people I work with are fantastic and very patient with me.)

Anyway, in researching theories I came across one called the LifeCareer Process Theory. It basically states that life is your career and your job is simply a part of it. It goes a lot more in depth, but that's pretty much the gist. The theory, created by Anna Miller-Tiedman, talks about rolling with all life throws at you rather than trying to fight it. It suggests that all decisions (career and otherwise) whether you believe them to have been good or bad are ultimately good because you've learned something from them. And by trying to plan too much just adds undue worry since life is going to deal you what it chooses despite how in control you think you are. (This lady is a genius!)

Since I have been back in Ohio, my friend Jenn has been my single biggest support, as she is going through the exact same thing I am. There have been many days we've had to pick each other up-- almost literally, and talk one another off the proverbial ledge. But one thing we constantly remind each other is:

"You are exactly where you are supposed to be."

Our mantra. I mean think about it. If you live life with that in mind it certainly helps to alleviate some of the unnecessary stress that we put on ourselves. If we are at our happiest, saddest, most scared, or bored, it's the exact necessary state we need to be in--because like the theory infers, we're going through that state, at that time, for a reason. So if we make a bad decision we shouldn't dwell on it or beat ourselves up because ultimately it will lead to having to make more decisions, one eventually ending in satisfaction. And all of it, the happiest and saddest times, the best and worst decisions lead to heightened awareness and hopefully some nuggets of wisdom as to what to do next time we are faced with something that feels insurmountable.

So I guess instead of looking at this trip as an opportunity to run away from reality, I should look at it as an opportunity to start a new reality. Maybe I can't see the reason for being where I am right now, but if I trust my new philosopher friend, Dr. Miller-Tiedman, then I should just accept it. And if I am accepting it, I may as well make the most of it, right??

Whew. Ok. A little of where my life is right now, and a little of where my head is. Back to my paper...

Monday, April 9, 2007


So, based on these (and a very worried father) we might have to re-think going to Nepal. As of right now, it doesn't sound like the smartest place for us to visit...

Important Security Information for American Citizens in Nepal

Travel Warning

Maybe since we'll be in Northern India we'll just hit up Pakistan instead. (kidding, Dad.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007


As usual, I have 3 chapters to read and 2 papers to complete by Wednesday-- so what do I do? Set up a blog!I've decided to join the rest of the cyber dorks and document the trip I am about to take, mostly for me to look back on when life returns to "normal" (and it will give my parents some peace-of-mind that their daughter didn't get eaten by a python). As many of you know, my life is in an extremely transitional state right now so writing about it is somewhat cathartic. I'll try to stick to the facts and not stray too far into the philosophical debates inside my head, but I can't make any promises. Especially when I am with Tiffany... (love you, Tiff)

I officially got everything booked last week, and $4,000 later (ugh) I am headed to Japan, Thailand, India, possibly Nepal, Italy, Sweden, England, hopefully some more of Europe time permitting, then on to Morocco and Ghana. 3 continents in 4 months. Originally I was going to meet Tiff in Dehli, India but after some major arm twisting I am meeting her back in Thailand--This is kinda how it went--Tiff to Maggie: "You should come back and visit me in paradise for a week before we go to one of the hottest, dirtiest, crowded-est places in the entire world" --It took a lot of convincing.

I am spending about 3 weeks in Japan, staying with a friend in Kyoto and another in Toyko. Ironically, my dad might be in Japan at the same time so that would be great. I'd tag along with him when he goes to interview very important people and visit very important places. And maybe I'll even get my picture in the Dispatch! (right, I know Dad, not allowed). From Japan I'll meet Tiffany in Koh Phangan (an island off the southern coast of Thailand--it's where I took the sunset picture on here) and together we will fly from Bangkok to Dehli and quickly hop in a taxi to take us to Rishikesh. Apparently Delhi isn't the best place for two little American girls to be hangin' by themselves. We will spend close to a month in northern India and possibly travel to Nepal depending on how we're feeling. Personally, I'd like to say I went to Kathmandu, because until recently all I knew about it was that Bob Seger sang about how badly he wanted to "get out of here and go to Kathmandu" (A feeling I can relate to...)

From Delhi we fly to Rome, where we will go meet Tiffany's adopted Italian family in Viareggio. She will likely spend her entire time in Europe in Italy. Me on the other hand...well, who knows what I'll do. I do know I will be making a trip to Stockholm to visit my cousin-in-law, Micaela and watch a soccer game that one of my friends plays for in the Swedish Preimer Division. I'm hoping I can talk Micaela into taking a long weekend (or more) to do a little traveling around Europe. We'll see how it all works out. I don't have any concrete plans aside from Sweden so it's WIDE open. I'll meet back up with Tiff in Italy and we'll fly from Rome to Casablanca, Morocco at the beginning of August. Depending on the political/safety/terrorism scene there at the time we are planning on staying for 2 weeks. If we aren't feeling great about the situation that could potentially change. From Casablanca we head to Accra, Ghana which I am SO looking forward to. From Ghana we fly back to NYC--yes, Tiff is coming back with me! And I go straight to a intensive residency program at Seton Hall. That'll be fun--9 hours of class a day on total jetlag. But hey, my delirium will give my classmates something to psychoanalize, right?

It's still surreal that I am actually doing this. I only have one expectation for the trip--to come back changed. Not in a bad way, but in a way that allows me to have an even bigger view of this crazy world, and a way that reminds me that it's a lot bigger than me and my stuff...bigger than all of us. Ok...more on the deep stuff later. Maybe after a hookah bar in Rishikesh or something...

So...that's the plan. I leave May 1, return Sept 4, and in between hopefully make the most of every second of this experience.For those recieving the link to this blog, I just wanted to thank you for being my friends and being here for me. Love you all lots. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it.