Uncategorized10 Jul 2010 03:03 am

Well, it is for me anyway. (You can read all my thoughts on the subject from our last trip.)Flight was delayed about an hour out of SFO. Fortunately, we had about a three hour layover in Calgary, so no big deal.Plane from Calgary was switched, meaning our seating assignments were all shot to hell - I got the middle seat in a row of three, no economy plus, and NO upgrades :-(Then because of the seat re-assignment, they messed up my meal. No vegetarian for me and all I got to eat was a cucumber salad and a brownie. Lame.Got through customs easily but had to go through the hassle of using a pay phone to call my sister - and then she didn’t answer.She had to go to an interview close to the time we were going to get to her flat so I told her to wait as long as she could.Navigated the tube easily, but when we got to Joce’s flat she’d already left.We toted our luggage around her neighborhood, ate something and came back to her place. A nice neighbor let us into the building and showed us her flat. I rang to see if her roommates were there but no answer.We set up camp outside her door, figuring we’d wait till she got back.After about 15 minutes her roommate came out with the hilarious expression: “good god, how long have you been sitting out here?!” (you have to imagine it in a think English accent.) He let us in to wait for her and all was well.The first 24 hours of a trip is usually a rough experience for me even if all goes according to plan - I feel cramped, sore, tired, hungry - and usually at some point, very angry with Ryan. And then there’s usually some sort of journey to undertake: navigating public transit, even hailing a cab can be a challenge when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings.After the first 24 hours or so, I’m usually questioning my judgment, but after that - and after a nap! - I’m able to see the value in my endeavours again. And by then I’m usually in love with a new city.(Ryan has to upgrade my version of wordpress, so until then, pictures can be seen here.

Uncategorized16 Sep 2009 07:35 pm

i think a lot of people perceive international travel as being too far out of their reach for one main reason: they think it’s too expensive. of course there are some places where travel is quite astronomical (yes, i’m looking at you, japan!) but there are many many more countries and cities that - if you plan it right - don’t present insurmountable costs.

we debated for quite a while before finally biting the bullet and investing in our BA trip. we had a lot of things to weigh: although i work on the road, i  end up billing fewer hours when i’m traveling.  ryan’s been bootstrapping his startup which means long hours and less cash flow. and we have the dogs - finding a time when my parents are in town and then getting the beagles there is no easy task. but in the end i view travel as an investment - something i’d much rather do than, say, get a bigger apartment or buy some new furniture (who needs anything more than ikea when you’re just living a glorified college existence anyway?!). i grew up gallivanting across the world but doing without things like cable and video games (and not really missing out at all). so, when given the choice between world travel and, well, pretty much anything else, i’ll likely always choose travel.

that still leaves the little problem of how to pay for it. fortunately right now airfare is lower than i’ve ever seen it before - two tickets to BA ran us about $1600. beyond taking advantage of super cheap flights, researching cost of living at various locations is key. the euro, for example, has flipped in value from when i lived and traveled there (you get much less than a dollar to each euro, whereas a few years ago it was reversed!) but the currency in buenos aires crashed recently meaning a better exchange rate.

but here’s my key to actually making money - though it will probably only work well if you’re coming from somewhere with a high cost of living and going somewhere where the cost of living is much lower: sublet your place and rent a flat in your destination city. avoiding hotels will likely save you money, get you out of the touristy areas and give you a much more authentic experience. subletting your home/apartment/condo while you’re away will not only off-set the cost of your flat at your destination city but will also provide you with quite a bit of walking around money! for example, we rented our place out for about a quarter of the cost of the flat we’re staying in. that’s a LOT of cafes and media lunas!

of course, coordinating this all required a bit of leg-work but i can’t think of many circumstances under which i’d rather be typing from my apartment in SF vs. a funky flat in a new, unique and lively city! (except i DO really miss my puppies …)

Uncategorized14 Sep 2009 08:13 pm

one of the things i enjoy most about foreign countries is the food. hell, one of the things i enjoy most about LIFE is the food! and i am a huge fan in particular of just about any type of ethnic food. the other night at home ryan and i were trying to think of the last time we’d eaten american food (besides things like sandwhiches, soup, etc), and we came up empty. unfortunately, over the past several nights in buenos aires, i’ve been a bit disappointed. and it’s because i try to eat mostly produce.

portenos apparently don’t do produce, at least not with their meals. if you order chicken, you get a chicken. if you order beef, you get a piece of meat. no side salad. no veggies. nada. this is especially problematic because, in addition to focusing heavily on grilled meats, their diet has a lot of starch. pastas. empanadas. pastries. bread. all things that are delicious, but all things that don’t really constitute a meal for me.  i need an inordinate amount of fruits and veggies at least as a PART of my meal, if not the meal entirely. apple filling in croissants doesn’t count. neither does the orange wedge garnishing ryan’s giant steak.

so i’ve been trying to eat a lot of salad which aren’t super ethnic, but still has somewhat of a local interpretation. and then tonight i got the ULTIMATE local interpretation: mayo. as salad dressing. slathered all over the top of my lettuce!! what’s a not-too-much-meat-eating, veggie-loving, produce-obsessed girl to do?! i scraped off the entire top half of the salad (taking with it all the tasty toppings: crutons, tomatoes, cheese), doused the remaining with oil and vinegar and plowed my way through.

it’s unlikely that i’ll order salad again. so i’m not sure what my solution is. i’ve been buying fruit at the market, so maybe i’ll just go with that … but i’m spoiled by the great local produce we have in SF and the apples and oranges i’ve had so far here aren’t cutting it. i’m tempted to do one big, traditional argentine meal, and then go more fusion or opt for a different cuisine altogether. as much as i love the food of other cultures i can’t see how eating empenadas for the next ten days would be a great decision …

Uncategorized12 Sep 2009 07:08 pm

I was thinking today (yesterday? Somewhere over the international dateline?) about how much work international travel really is – you have the airport shenanigans, the long flights (usually more than one), connections, layovers, the impossibility of sleep, time changes, luggage … and that’s all just to get you to your final destination. As we were speeding over the atlantic ocean today, and I was unable to sleep (in spite of my economy plus accommodations and the empty seat next to me), I wished I could just go back home and curl up in my own bed.

And then we touched down, got a taxi and hit the open roads of buenos aires, snaking our way further into the gritty, vibrant, uniqueness that I’ve experienced in nearly international city i’ve been to. And I got The Feeling. The feeling that hits me every time I go somewhere new, overwhelming and unexplored. The feeling other travelers can surely identify with. The energy of the moment. The overwhelming sense that you are at the most important place in the world at the best possible time and you never want to leave. “The Feeling” feeds your soul yet leaves you insatiably longing for more. The unknown is scary and enticing and you can’t get enough.

Describe it however you will or marvel at its inability to be put into words … The Feeling is what puts me onto another plane. Forces me to give up another chunk of my hard-earned cash. Draws me into street markets and corner bars and into conversations in odd corners of this expansive planet. If you’ve never felt it, it’s hard to describe, but if you’re a fellow vagabond it’s a familiar sensation. And – if you’re like me - one that makes up an increasingly large portion of who you are.

(pics are on facebook and more to come once i update this OLD version of wordpress!)

family and politics26 Oct 2008 02:51 pm

yes, there are a few out there, a few whose opinions and rationale for voting the way they are voting i respect. i wanted to point this out since i feel like many think that i am pro anything liberal and anti anything conservative. not true.

two of the people whose opinions and decisions i respect the most in the world are my parents, who are both conservatives. but - unlike so many conservatives that i’ve talked to - they are not unwilling to admit the current republican party is deeply flawed and has gotten this nation into situations we need nothing more than to get out of. we just disagree on how to go about doing this :-).

they have told me things like:

*they wish there was a better representative of small government on the Republican side.

*Sarah Palin isn’t the best VP candidate, but many candidates have grown into the office and went on to be great Presidents.

my dad even linked to an article where the author had enough foresight (and hindsight) to admit that the current republical party is in a world of hurt. (even though it was a list of reasons why not to vote for obama, yes, i’ll even put the link to the original article: http://boortz.com/nuze/undecided.html)

the author says:

*One thing for sure … the Republicans deserve exactly what is happening to them in this election.

*The Republicans don’t deserve power in Washington just as you don’t deserve a boil in the center of your forehead

*I operate on the principle that governments have the power to tax so that governments can collect the money needed to pursue and pay for the legitimate functions of that government.

of course, the author says a lot of other things that i DON’T agree with – and he doesn’t back up much of his information with sources or facts, which everyone probably knows by now is a must for me! but i’m willing to admit that many of his points are well-reasoned and at least purposefully thought-out, as opposed to simply regurgitating uneducated opinions and right-ist propaganda. which is more than i can say for most of the republican-leaning articles i’ve had passed on to me. then again, the bar has been set pretty low. :-)

another thing i appreciate deeply about my parents is that they value – and taught me to value – rational thought, even if it leads us to two different conclusions. the more i’ve debated with people (mostly on the right) during this election, the more i’ve bemoaned the death of rational thought. and not just that. i’ve been shocked at the vitriol with which you’re attacked if you DO believe in researching your own information, evaluating positions, and coming to a personal, rational conclusion.

not only is rational thought for the most part apparently dead, you will likely be verbally pistol-whipped by obscene amounts of people if they suspect you’ve engaged in something remotely resembling “ration” or “thought.”  i cannot tell you the number of times i have been met with feelings or statements of, “bad christian,” “bad person,” “no values,” “biased,” etc because i was NOT towing the line of the religious right and i had opted to draw my own conclusions.

although i grew up in a relatively conservative home, i feel i came away with a bit of a different perspective than many in similar situations, as i was encouraged to broaden my horizons, think for myself, learn about (and visit!) different cultures, keep an open mind and treat people fairly.

and though my parents and i may be on different pages politically, i have something i’ve come to value even more over the last few months: their support in spite of our differences. they respect my opinions – and i respect theirs – because we each know we came to our conclusions based not on someone telling us what we should do, but based on a quest after the truth, and rational thought.

thanks mom and dad :-)

finances07 Sep 2008 08:52 am

I came across this post on 50 ways to save money, cut back in every day life and save $1000 a year. $1000 isn’t much and sometimes the trade-offs aren’t worth it (make my own laundry detergent? no thanks) but it’s good to keep in mind some “basic” ways we ratchet up our spending without even noticing.

a few months ago, ryan and i decided to live on my income and use his income for mortgage debt pay-down, savings, and investments like current and future real estate properties, our start-up companies, and a few other things. since then, we’ve been looking for ways to reasonably cut back. i say “reasonably” because sure, i could make my own detergent, wash clothes by hand, grow my own vegetables, and cook everyday but we also want to strike a balance between cutting back, enjoying life, and making the most of our time. for example, if ryan or i could charge X for an hour of client work and it takes us an hour to cook dinner and we only save $5 in the process, technically we’ve actually lost money. obviously, this is somewhat of a fallacy, since we won’t be working 24/7 (although it feels like that sometimes …) but the principle stands, and this is often our deciding factor between what money-saving practices are worth it (using the landromat instead of the fluff and fold - a decision that did NOT make me happy!) and which ones are not (clipping coupons - gag).

so back to the list. many of the items on the list we’re already doing - which is good, but i’ll admit i was hoping for a few genius tips i hadn’t thought of. we way cut back on takeout and “going out.” we don’t have a car. we live in a small apartment. we don’t have much - if any - credit card debt b/c we never use the thing (i’ve never even HAD a personal credit card). we eat very little meat. we don’t have a TV or any game consoles and therefore no cable and no temptation to buy games or DVDs.

there are a few things on the list that, of course, i just won’t do to save a buck. i won’t give up my gym membership - i can’t get the same benefits from just going for a walk or a jog a few times a week. plus our membership is like $15/month. obviously we have puppies which are a big drain, but having pet health insurance has helped a GREAT deal. i won’t turn down a night out with friends - but i can only order one drink, or just get by with a salad to save a few bucks.

and here’s a big one: i won’t move. in terms of where we are and what we get, our apartment is a relatively “good deal” though still obscenely expensive compared to middle america, or even somewhere else in california. but i just won’t give up city life - nor do i ever plan it. at some point i’d love to live in new york and/or hong kong but those are also some of the world’s most expensive cities and so we’ve made our decision as to where and why we’re spending the most money.

so out of the list of 50 there weren’t really that many new tips i could implement. are we already maxed out on our “reasonable” cut-backs? is it possible to be “maxed-out” in this area? is saving that extra $1000/year really worth it when looking at the sacrifices you may have to make to get there? i guess these are questions everyone has to answer for themselves - and be happy with the outcome no matter what it might be!

city life26 Jun 2008 12:38 pm

I always forget the exact number of times I moved. when the number has been in the double digits since you were, like 15, it’s hard to remember. but i counted it up and the grand total so far is 13. that’s not counting little, cross-town moves. if you add those in, the total jumps to 17. sure, moving is a hassle, but for me, the major hassle - packing and the actual act of MOVING it all - has always been taken care of by the military. i’ve moved cross town, cross country and out of the country and i think my biggest concern has always been getting unpacked quickly so i’d have time to settle in before we moved again in a year, or 18 months, or maybe two years.

we moved out to san francisco two years ago by ourselves - that was my first “self-moving” experience and i don’t remember much, except that we rented this HUGE moving truck. it would’ve been way too big anyway, but then i ended up having to sell all our furniture b/c a). ryan rented us a studio in SF, and b). that studio was 300 square feet and partially furnished. we had like 10 boxes in a ginormous moving van.

so how much can one fit into 300 square feet? not THAT much, but a lot more than you’d think. i like the idea of  “traveling light,” but now that i’m starting to pack it all up, it’s not as “light” as I thought!

so i’ve been out scrounging for used boxes (i can’t justify - financially or ecologically - BUYING moving boxes that i will likely only throw out), and digging through our recycling bins for old newspaper and unwanted mailers to wrap my dishes in.

ryan was making fun of me for my complete lack of a method - and it’s true, i really don’t know what i’m doing. i may be the worst serial-mover EVER.

Uncategorized18 Jun 2008 01:20 pm

ok, that statement isn’t ENTIRELY true. there are certain types of risk that make me super-un-easy. and i’m not saying i jump in with both feel without doing the research. but i’ve come to realize i’m far more OK with risk than most people. a lot of this has to do with ryan, who also loves risk - he tends to feel that if you’re not risking something, you’re playing it too safe. and of course, there’s the old cliche, the greater the risk the greater the reward.

a lot of it has to do with my friends - many of whom are entrepreneurs - their examples, support, and encouragement. then there’s the factor of where we live. San Francisco and Silicon Valley are areas built on risk. you can’t sit in a coffee shop without hearing several conversations about start-ups, funding, elevator pitches, etc. We live in the “entrepreneurship bubble” and i have to remember that this area is HIGHLY concentrated with unlikely stories of people who have risked it all to hit superstardom, or at least risked a lot to succeed. of course some have lost it all - but if nothing else they risked it for something they believed in.

and … a lot of my risk-loving - especially the components that existed prior to ryan and San Francisco - comes from my military upbringing. it contributes to my feeling that “if you’re not moving on, you’re not challenging yourself.” growing up, “moving on” usually meant literally MOVING, but as i’ve grown up it’s coming to mean other things.

Another reason I’m a fan of risk is that big dreams usually come with some degree of risk. and i was brought up to believe that i can - and SHOULD! - actually achieve my dreams. it’s taken me a while to mold these dreams but as i have, this seeming cliche has become more important to me.

we bought our first investment property at 21 (and the two to follow) with the dream that these will help us on our road to financial independence. i.e. not HAVING to work if we don’t want to.

we moved to the city - to fulfill our dream of living somewhere awesome  - with no jobs, no apartment and no furniture.

when i didn’t want to be a slave to an employer any more, i quit my job to work for myself.

i founded an eco-friendly pet product company to get a start on my dream of working with animals and doing everything i can to make their life - and our planet’s life - better.

there are many more in this list, but these show varying degrees of risk. and when i look at some of them “on paper” they look downright stupid. and i’ll admit we haven’t always made the best-advised decisions, but i think as we’ve matured we’ve gotten better at taking calculated risks as opposed to blind risks.

for me, i think it comes down to, “what’s it going to take to make my dreams a reality?” or, “what do i need to do to change the world in a way only i can.” I’m not talking about risking it all for delusions of grandeur, but we each have a passion, purpose and dream that is uniquely ours. and finding the road to fulfilling that purpose will, likely, not be risk-free.

Uncategorized16 Jun 2008 11:51 am

I’ve decided to resurrect this blog to be one of my “personal” blogs - I just don’t have enough time or creativity to set up an entire, new site.

Anyway, as most of you know, Ryan and I started “dating” when we were 18. I put “dating” in quotes, well, b/c we were 18 - and shortly after our first date, Ryan headed off to the Navy, and I headed off to college. What followed until we got married was anything but dating, and more like obsessive email and letter writing, interspersed with a few random visits here and there. beside the fact that we were 18, this was not a great way to start a relationship - and definitely not easy! - i could write volumes on that topic, but  i digress.

this past weekend, ryan and i celebrated the 7th “anti-versary” of our first date. anyone who knows us knows we’re a little … well, “unconventional” is a nice way to put it. some people would probably say we have a weird relationship and that’s pretty accurate too. this is especially true when it comes to the “traditional” pillars of a relationship. we HATE valentine’s day and we don’t really celebrate our anniversary, opting instead to observe our “anti-versary.”

it’s a lot less complicated than it sounds: our first date was on a Friday the 13th. so each year when Friday the 13th rolls around, we celebrate in some way, some more glam than others. This year - since we’re trying to move, and in SF you have to have like 10 grand in the bank to do that - we went to a neighborhood bar, then watched the (really crappy) movie (”someone like you”) that we went to on our first date.

We also talked about our 18-year-old selves.  all-in-all, i think my 18-year-old self would be proud of me. I always hear about these people who, when they were young,  had these grandiose dreams and then life happened and they didn’t get to do what they wanted to. i’m really fortunate to not have had this problem yet! Sure, i think if i’d told my 18-year-old self EXACTLY what I was doing - namely that I was self-employed and starting another company! - i probably would have been a bit surprised. entrepreneurship kind of snuck up on me, it wasn’t necessarily something i set out to do years ago! but i think overall my former self would be happy with the decisions I’ve made so far.

you never know how life is going to turn out, but i feel like a lot of people sell out their younger, more ambitious selves for the status quo. i don’t think i’ve done this so far and - while i AM still young - i feel like the decisions i’m making now will help ensure that my future is anything but status quo. i think 18-year-old me would be satisfied with that :-).

Uncategorized01 Mar 2008 07:28 pm

i felt like i should post something to wrap everything up and let everyone know we’re home. traveling was fun, and i’m so glad we had the opportunity, but i’m happy to be home. I honestly don’t know how those backpackers do it - for months at a time, with no real itinerary. having grown up military, i’ve always considered myself a bit of a modern-day nomad, but more of a longer-term nomad i guess. more like 1-3 years in one place as opposed to 1-3 weeks or months!

we’re still digging ourselves out from under the luggage, souvenirs, and mail we accumulated over the last 2 1/2 months and are enjoying our regular haunts like our neighborhood coffee shop, deli and grocery store.

i haven’t really decided what i’m going to do with the site from here … one thing i learned from this trip is that i don’t plan to do something like it again any time soon!  when we first took off i thought if everything went well - considering our employment situation - we might continue doing these types of trips. but when we travel from now on, i think we’ll take longer chunks of time to see one or two areas - instead of six countries in one month! It was a great way to see everything - and obviously i’m psyched we did it - but it’s not something i necessarily want to repeat :-D

and speaking of our employment situation, i think i’ll be looking for full-time employment now that we’re back. a lot of my clients stopped working with me around christmas time for various monetary issues and i honestly don’t love what i’m doing as a consultant/freelancer enough to try and build my client base back up again.

so anyway, i’m thinking i might just use the blog to update friends and family on our (incredibly exciting non-travel, day-to-day) life. so keep checking back and i’ll keep writing.

<3

alexis

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