Category Archives: Preparation

Last Post Stateside

Bonus Lori Factoid: this post might be enhanced by playing this song while you’re reading, the song I always listen to at take-off when going on a trip of any significance.  And, if you’re still interested, this song comes next.  Ah, ritual.

Maybe it’s just the nature of traveling, but miniature disasters seem to be my lot: three days before I left, I received a bad, bad haircut; my laptop screen kicked the bucket; my luggage might be routed to the wrong station; I probably don’t need to go into the saga of the Great Passport Caper again.

My hair, roughly. My facial expression, absolutely.

But those things are fixed now.  And those are the things I’ll forget soon (or, I would have, had I not committed them forever to internet.  Whatever).  I’ll get to where I’m going, with or without my baggage (icing on the cake, right? Maybe in this case, more icing than cake.  Yuck).  At any rate, anything, anything, will be better than the seven-hour layover in Newark I’m currently enjoying, even though I can see the New York skyline from where I’m sitting, and there is something that feels so right about writing my last post in America while looking out over the Statue of Liberty.  I feel like I could make a point more profound than that, but my sense of the profound is a bit stifled by the stretch of New Jersey in between me and Lady Liberty, which is – how shall I phrase this delicately? – ugly.

Plus, that aforementioned stretch of calamity seems pretty trivial in light of last night: a huge thanks to all the friends and family who came over for the farewell party.  I have to admit, I’ve been a bit disappointed throughout the week at how anticlimactic all my goodbyes were – “well, guess I’ll see her again in a year” – but that disappointment was completely unfounded, I was, well, surprised to find out.  Evidently, it doesn’t take much to surprise me; Dianne said she could have parked her car in the driveway and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.  Fair point.  However, I should have known something was up when Mom called and told Joe and me, who were out for the day enjoying all Little Rock has to offer (read: the Historic Arkansas Museum), to take our sweet time, don’t come home yet, the two of us won’t see each other for a long time – wait, my mom, not hungry and letting us know about it at 5:30?  Preposterous.

I can’t tell you enough how much it helps to know I’ve got so much support and good will on the home front, and this year doesn’t seem so impossible knowing that I have you guys to come back to.

And now, auf Wiedersehen!  Looks like this is really happening.


The Art of Losing

or, How This Trip Came Dangerously Close to Not Happening.

Three days ago, I couldn’t find my passport.  This, to put it lightly, is bad news, especially if your itinerary involves going abroad within the week.  A passport, my brother so sagely once told me (half an hour ago), is really one of the two things you actually need to travel, the other being a credit card.  With those in hand (or in travel purse tucked not-so-discreetly under shirt, as the case may be), you can show up to the airport and go.  “The rest,” he said, ” is just icing on the cake.”

At any rate, I lost exactly what I could not lose: the cake itself, my passport.

I love googling things like "passport cake."

Thursday evening, I noted vaguely to myself that it wasn’t where I had last seen it, and I went out for the evening with only a mild sense of discomfort settling into my stomach.  Upon my return, this discomfort escalated with great vengeance and impressive  momentum into extreme panic as I tore through my room (which has yet to be reassembled and, you know, packed).  I did what any person in my situation does, and dutifully checked those unlikely, untouched places that only cross your mind in moments like this one: that high left-hand corner of the closet, pockets of jackets you’ve been meaning to bring in to the Salvation Army.  It goes without saying that this tactic only served to increase my panic.

Joe, my boyfriend, came to visit this weekend, and drove up that evening to find a, shall we say, disgruntled girlfriend.  He, old reliable that he is, continued the search, while I, in the throes of despair, began frantic online searches like “how fast can I get a replacement passport.”

And, true, I’d pay the expediting fee, and I could have a brand spanking new passport within a few weeks, and probably one with a better picture than my current one.  But really, a lot is riding on having this one right here, right now, and it was this potential “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” scenario that was causing me real grief: if I don’t have my passport, I miss my plane, and I can’t afford another ticket, and I miss my orientation, and if I miss my orientation, can I still even be a Fulbrighter, and even if I can, I am going to seem like such a dummkopf when I roll up to the Berufsbildende Schule four weeks late.

But then, just as I was about to give up the ghost and call it quits on the whole year-abroad thing, I turned around, and there it was, that wascally wabbit, poking innocuously through a couple of binders, right where I remember seeing it last.

and then, and I kid you not, “What a Wonderful World” began playing on Pandora.

at which point, and I kid you not, I hyperventilated.

How to Pack for Ten Months Abroad

I haven’t the foggiest.

But, in a way, this is one of the most exciting phases of the trip, as this is the moment when I can most unreservedly delude myself.  An Excel spreadsheet doesn’t limit me in that cruel way suitcases do, and so at the moment, while my pond-hopping belongings are still in list form, I have the luxury of including stupid things like my rabbit corkscrew and a watercolor set.  Because, of course, once I find myself surrounded by the mystique of Europe, I will find myself a connoisseur.

Au revoir, jaded American version of Lori!

What I’m really banking on, though, is that I’ll soon come to my senses and acknowledge that this isn’t Eat Pray Love. My editing eye is going to kick in (as will the confines of my suitcases), and with that, my list (and the mental picture I have of me, sitting on the terraced hillside opposite Bingen, wine in hand, painting the boats floating down the Rhine at sunset) will be rendered ridiculous, and I will never have to figure out how to fandangle myself so that I can drink wine and paint simultaneously.  Thank goodness.