Thursday, September 22, 2005

Now What?

Decisions, decisions.

My ticket to the US has me arriving at Newark Airport on October 17.

But I don’t feel ready to go home yet. I haven’t written the book yet but I’ve been collecting a lot of good stories and experiences. I haven’t figured out how to shoehorn today’s experiences into a book about traveling from Cape to Cairo in 2001, but that’s a detail that I will get ironed out in rewrites (and more rewrites). I tend to think living in a place provides better story fodder than whisking around the continent.

I have been considering extending my stay. I was wondering… what is it like in Mozambique? Malawi? Lesotho? Kruger National Park? I wouldn’t mind renting a place in Nairobi (my original plan before H.M. got the job in Uganda).

Unfortunately, these plans have costs.

1) $100 to change my ticket from Africa to London (it’s a frequent flyer ticket).

2) $200 to change my ticket from London to Newark (this is a normal ticket, paid for in bump vouchers).

3) A few hundred dollars in traveler’s insurance, which would need to be extended.

4) The costs of paying for my Jersey City apartment. I’ve had a tenant who covered costs, but he moves out tomorrow.

So if I were to stay in Africa, I would need to somehow get a tenant that I trust into my apartment. If the Jersey City costs are covered, that helps a lot as it costs much less to live or travel in Africa than to live in Jersey City, where I pay mortgage, taxes, maintenance, phone, utilities, health insurance, blah blah blah.

I have been toying with the idea of going back on the road versus renting in Nairobi or Cape Town. Both have their appeal. And it took me four years to get back to Africa, so I’m unlikely to be back any time soon.

But yesterday a new wrinkle presented itself.

A job offer. One that starts in mid-October. Editing children’s books at a company I worked for previously. Easy commute, mediocre pay, and a job that isn’t difficult. It’s a freelance three-month assignment.

Now the decision-making must begin in agony. Life is not about paying bills, but one must occasionally be realistic.

And perhaps it is easier to write a book with a structured 9-5 job. Life as a freelancer means constant hustling for work and prioritizing the immediate deadline emergencies. 9-5 means having evenings and weekends free.

Still… I don’t want to be working just to pay for my apartment, and I don’t want to turn 40 in April while treading water alone, just getting by for the sake of getting by. It would be nice to have a finished manuscript turned in and be working toward a goal or two instead of waffling around my place and wondering what to do next.

So that’s the question. What would you do? Bear in mind that I’m not rich but I’ve always managed to squeak by somehow.


Anonymous said...

A job (almost a 'REAL' job) as an editor of children's books? I'd take it -- that's more credentials as a 'REAL' editor, as opposed being a comic book editor that was REALly hard work but got no respect in the REAL world...
However, that's me, not you. Sounds like you equate Jersey and a job with being REAListic--but not what you REALly want to do... There's always the coin toss, which is sometimes useful to identify what we want. If it comes up heads and you're disappointed, and so you say, okay, best 2 out of 3, and toss the coin again-- then, do tails.
What is REALity, anyhow?

Anonymous said...

I'd stay. Go to Nairobi or wherever else. Just don't come home. I made this mistake once while contemplating living in Kuching, Malaysia. I really wanted to stay but said to myself I had to be "real" and I went home to a "real" job. 3 years later I'm wondering how to get back to somewhere like Kuching! I will eventually, no doubt about that, however it only get harder.

Tanej said...

I'd stay. I have a "structured" 9 to 5 job with 4 weeks vacation each year. I use those 4 weeks to travel as far and as wide as I can. What you've chosen to do over the past several years is special. I'm guessing you're quite capable of "working toward a goal or two" anywhere. Stay.

Steve Buccellato said...

Hey--your blog is called "No Hurry..." right? So, stay a bit longer!

Amanda said...

I'd probably stay - if I didn't already have a job in the states, I'd probably in Uganda right now. As it is I'm saving up vacation time to go back there. I'm sure it can be tough to find a job with an easy commute and work you kind of like, but something decent should come up when you decide to return...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog - it's a lot of fun hearing someone someone else's perspective of and adventures in Africa.

Don Hudson said...

As long as I have known you, you have always enjoyed the journey into the new and unknown. You should avoid the chains of the 9to5 for as long as possible.