Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mental Vacation

I have a fear of the routine.

That's the thing I miss most about my former career: every day was different. Different schedule, different stage of the rehearsal process, and sometimes even different locations. The opportunity to travel was really the best part, and the thing I looked the most forward to. The actual time I was working exclusively as a singer was pretty brief, but I still got to Europe and visited several places around the U.S.

I just like traveling. It doesn't even have to be fancy places like London or Chicago, or cool places like Santa Fe. One of the best gigs I ever had was a concert series sponsored by the Central City Opera, where we did a two-week road-trip through small towns on the west side of the Colorado Rockies.

About the only place my current job will ever send me is Duane Reade.

My other career was very forward-looking. I had a plan; there was always a next step. Having a new project and location waiting on the horizon was very satisfying for me.

I am really enjoying my present job -- honestly -- but that voice in the back of my head is starting to ask more frequently, "Is this going anywhere?" I find my work challenging and fun and even semi-interesting, but I can't help thinking that I'm capable of more.

January and February is the worst time of year in Manhattan. Fortunately January has (so far) not been as agonizingly frigid as it was the past two years, but still. The holidays are over, the days are short and dark, the trees are bare, everything is grey and brown. Even on a crystal clear, sunny winter day, Central Park looks like it's molting.

I know other New Yorkers feel it, too. There's tension. Short fuses. More selfishness.

I need out. Even a brief change of scenery would really help. But there's not anyplace I can go.

One of the great things about my job is that there's ample paid vacation; the downside is that I can't afford to go anywhere. I could go visit my family in Oregon, of course...but -- and mom, don't take this the wrong way -- that's not really relaxing anymore. My parents are all retired now, so they're home most of the time, and they don't "do" very much.

It's weird having to ask for permission to borrow the car, like I'm 16 again. "Where are you going?" Well, sometimes I just don't know, sometimes I just go. "When will you be back?" I don't know, when driving gets boring. When I get hungry. Whenever.

When I am on vacation, I like to balance periods of relaxation with doing things. And you know, having grown up there, there's not much in Portland I haven't done. More than once. And besides, if you think Manhattan is gross in January, well...Portland ain't a lot better.

Don't get me wrong. I love my family dearly and know how lucky I am to have them. But there's a difference between a vacation and visiting your family. You know?

In my desperation I recently bought a CD that I thought might help me relax. I figured I could put it on, close my eyes, and imagine myself somewhere a little more exotic. Instead I found myself checking the sheets for tarantulas.

My grandma writes to me frequently and always tells me that God has a plan for us. Right now I'd prefer an itinerary.


Anthony said...

I would dearly like to travel more but am also hampered by work in this regard. That said, I can thoroughly recommend leaving town to visit friends.

On that note, even though the expense is likely to exceed that of going to Oregon by quite a bit, should an unexpected windfall come your way, you're more than welcome to show up in Edinburgh.

Luke said...

"Echos of nature?" Oh Andy, we should talk about you non-classical tastes in music. Well, at least you didn't get Pure Moods.. ;-p

Andy said...

There's no music, it's just birds tweeting and chirping and rrrrraaarrrraawing with some crickets, frogs and intermittent rainstorms. Actually it's kind of cool. I think it will be better on hot damp August nights.

Anonymous said...

Andy, this is exactly why I have been begging you to buy a sub $300 Jet Blue ticket to LA.

You can stay with us, we almost always cook at home (stupid celiac disease) and other than maybe one round of drinks at a bar one night, I can't think of any other $ you'd have to spend.

Hell, I will even send you the $300 if you want. Cheer up!


Jean F. said...

I am not "retired." I simply choose not to work... I do volunteer work with homeless street kids, I go to the gym, I take yoga classes, I meet with friends every Friday, I take care of an old lady and am a wonderful wife to someone who just retired last week. I hate the word "retired." I'm just kidding you here. I know what you like is to come home and have the house all to yourself -- just you and the dogs. We'll be gone the last week of June if you want to come then...

Andy said...

Mom - My apologies. I figured it was easier to say "retired" than publish your personal schedule in my blog.

KH - tempting! I just don't want to be a burden...