mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

No destination....

I've noticed that when I read online personal ads, one of the hobbies that most single women in my age group seem to list is travel, especially international travel, usually accompanied by pictures of them standing in front of exotic locations.

I've never understood the appeal of travel. It's always stuck me as a waste of money, and that attitude probably isn't helping my efforts to shake my single status.

But I really don't understand the appeal. Part of it is that I see travel as one of those things that's probably more enjoyable if you have someone else - not to mention the economies of scale that lower the cost per person. International travel doesn't really appeal to me, if only because there are so many things in the US that can be seen so much more easily and cheaply. The other thing about travel that I'm not big on is what to do at night - I'm not the kind of person who randomly strikes up conversations with people I've never met, so I tend to spend my nights on business trips by myself eating take-out fast food in my hotel room while watching reruns of Family Guy.

If pressed, I could come up with a list of places I wouldn't mind seeing in the US - the Peterson car museum in LA, the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, a ton of breweries and wineries across the country. I'm not a big flier, but I like driving - like watching the miles tick away on the Tom-Tom, like trying regional fast food chains, like seeing places that are similar, but different in little ways, from where I live.

But there are two things that block me from doing this. The first is money. It's not that I couldn't dip into my savings and pull out some money for motels and gas and gas station hot dogs. It's just that I don't want to. To me, spending money on services, on food and gas and rooms equiped with king-size beds, is an inferior use compared to hard goods. I've vowed not to make any big purchases until I've paid off another 10% of my house so that I can drop PMI, and that means no vacation spending. Once I've done that, I have a long mental list of things I would rather spend money on - redoing my master bath so it doesn't look like it's made entirely out of calk, replacing the cabinets in my kitchen with ones made after the Carter administration, buying a second, sporty, car, buying a TV from a brand not sold exclusively by Target.

The other part of the money angle is that, when you factor in mortgage payments, electric bills, repair costs, and other expenses, I'm probably spending something like 65% of my net pay on my house. I feel like I should spend as much time as possible in it, not in a hotel halfway across the country.

The second is time. My job gives me a very generous amount of vacation days - which I never use. Right now, I'm maxed out on vacation days (I've stopped accumulating them) and have 3 personal days that I'll lose sometime next month. But we are in the middle of a never-ending project right now and we were told not to take time off. Other people have anyway, but I'm aware that I'm on thin ice job-wise and don't want to do anything that will risk my job. Plus, when I've taken time off in the past, managers have commented that things have gone well in my absence - if I spend too much time away from the office, it will become obvious that they don't need me, and I'll be out of a job. I've also taken on some new responsibilities (Mac support, image development, software application deployment, SOP documentation, ect) that I'm already having trouble keeping up with - days away from the office are only going to put me deeper in the hole.

That's not to say that I never take time off - I'll take a day here and there to visit the parents in NJ (usually around holidays) or if I'm having work done at the house, or to take my cat to the vet. But my attitude towards vacation days is that that they should be used for needs, not wants - that they should be taken because thee is no other way to get something done, not just to go somewhere for no reason.

I realize that that my viewpoint on vacation days, as well as vacation in general, is probably not shared by a lot of people. Which is probably part of the reason that my life isn't shared with anyone, either.


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