The best is yet to come

Suddenly, instead of booking a trip for DC this summer, I’m looking up flights for Amsterdam for next spring.

Alex decided that it would be wiser to save up for a “real” vacation, one that takes place outside the U.S.  If I can be guaranteed this vacation, I will gladly take Amsterdam over Washington, DC.  However, this trip would be considerably more expensive.  Alex and I only have about $800 saved up at the moment.  We would need another $2,200 before we can afford flight + hotel… and some food.  I’d want to have at least $4,000 put away toward this trip, just to cover all of our bases and make sure we’re never left without money.

Recently, I’ve been very conscious of the charges I make on my credit card.  If I don’t have to use plastic, I try not to.  (Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that my credit card company raised my APR.)  It’s so easy to lose track of what I’m buying if the cash in my wallet is not dwindling down to nothingness.  Especially when travelling, I try to bring cash so that I can refrain from becoming too extravagant.  Being in a different country — especially for the first time — is incredibly romantic, which is wont to make people do stupid things.

Bringing cash on this trip (which is still very hypothetical at the moment) will hopefully prevent some of those stupid things.

Now… back to planning this bad boy.  I need to buy a travel guide, talk to friends who have been to Amsterdam, and start making an itinerary.  (Hi.  Have I mentioned that I’m slightly OCD when it comes to planning trips?  I like to plan everything, down to the tiniest detail.  I leave almost nothing to chance — inclement weather notwithstanding.  I can’t control the weather just yet.)

Half psychotic, sick, hypnotic

Late last month, my mother went to Russia to visit her family.  (Her entire family — mother, 4 sisters, and 1 brother — all live in either Dagestan or St. Petersburg.)  Today, she and my father got into their car and headed towards Virginia.  A friend of the family is flying to Las Vegas tomorrow.  Her daughter left for Costa Rica two days ago.  My sister and her boyfriend are heading to Aruba in a week or so.  I can’t help but be a little jealous of everyone’s recent expeditions.

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to go away somewhere and relax.  I guess that’s what happens when one works 20+ hours per week and goes to grad school (taking 12 credits at a time).  The last vacation I took was to Montreal with Alex… and that was 2 years ago.  I haven’t been able to travel anywhere because of:

  1. Lack of money
  2. School responsibilities
  3. Work responsibilities

However, I think I’m going to start planning a trip for mid- to late-August… in which Alex and I go to Washington, DC.  I’m looking at hotels, restaurants, museums, stores, bars, galleries, and libraries (oh hai LC) in the area.  I’m not willing to spend too much money on this trip… but I still want it to be nice.  The hotel that I am currently considering is $104/night (which is actually rather pricey by my standards) but it’s near the metro in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, so there are  a lot attractions nearby and I can easily get everywhere else.

Right now I’m trying to decide which mode of transportation to take to get to DC: car, bus, or train.  Taking a car would probably be cheapest but I’ll probably end up paying through the nose for parking.  (DC is not necessarily a car-friendly area.)  Hopping on a Greyhound bus is second cheapest but… ugh, it’s a bus.  Riding an Amtrak train to Union Station seems the most preferable because it’s quick (3.5 hrs) and it allows for passengers to walk around and stretch their legs.  (Buses are always cramped and loud… and prone to getting stuck in traffic.)  I’ll have to discuss this with Alex, I guess.

Coincidentally, I just ordered a digital camera and a mini-tripod on Amazon… so I’ll have a means of documenting this trip.  (I haven’t had a proper camera in about 1-2 years, since the lens motor on my Sony DSC-W7 crapped out on me.)  This trip is also special because this August is the 4th anniversary of my relationship with Alex.  Two years ago, we ran off to Montreal to celebrate… This year, we’re considering Washington, D.C.  We’ll be taking lots of photos, whatever we end up doing this summer.

There’s beauty in breakdown.

Due to technical difficulties, I had to start anew with WordPress. All of my previous posts and pages are now gone. However, I’ve learned to take a Buddhist approach to life.

According to the teachings of Buddhism, pain and suffering have roots in our desires for material possessions, power, and so on. Therefore, to reduce the amount of pain I experience, I no longer mourn the losses of my material possessions should I lose them accidentally.

For example, I recently wiped out my entire OS and, instead of freaking out and crying over the loss of information, I chose to let go. When I upgraded my iPhone‘s OS, I lost all of my data and I didn’t even flinch. So losing a couple years of thoughts and musings isn’t as big a deal as it would have been just a few years prior.

…This is why I now keep all of my important files on my 2GB flashdrive. At least it doesn’t have an OS that I can wipe out.

I don’t know exactly when my approach to life changed in this way. I remember being a very panic-ridden individual, being incredibly prone to anxiety attacks caused by stress. (I’m also a migraine sufferer, with headaches usually arising from stress. Needless to say, stress was a stressor in and of itself.) Sometime in high school, I think, is when I learned that when things are out of my control, I can’t do anything about it. If a teacher sprung a pop quiz on us and I wasn’t prepared, I no longer panicked. What would be the point? I would just be raising my blood pressure and making myself crazy. Meanwhile, the teacher would still hand out the quiz and I’d fail it anyway.

This isn’t to say that I’m stress-free these days. As a graduate student, I can’t escape stress. I have homework assignments, I have projects, I have papers. And then I have to worry about being able to pay for all of this stress! I’m slowly crawling into a $30,000 debt, hoping I’ll be able to dig my way out while keeping my dignity. (But with this economy, who can be sure?)

In the meantime, I’m taking deep breaths and learning to let go.