Self-Employees of the Month: Andrea Enright & Michael Boudreaux

Andrea Enright and Michael Boudreaux

A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then … the glory … a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories.”

–John Steinbeck

In 2005, Andrea Enright was living a golden, idyllic freelancer’s lifestyle, her communications portfolio fattening ever with contracts from well-known clients that ranged from Boston Market to Planned Parenthood. She had already successfully escaped the proverbial grind … but something was still missing. Her husband, Michael Boudreaux, a tech maestro for DIRECTV, thought so too. After a bit of soul-searching, they blew out of Denver and joined the Peace Corps.

When their two years of service in Bulgaria came to a close, Andrea and Michael kept going. On a mission they call “Wanderlust or Bust” they continued across the globe, including Syria, Lebanon, and Kurdistan (yeah, that’s Northern Iraq), couchsurfing, blogging, videoing and volunteering as they went. Continue reading

Expectations | Kenneth Koch

One of the great things about April (in addition to rain showers) is that it is National Poetry Month, and you can sign on to receive a fine and beautiful poem every single day. Beats heck out of a marketing newsletter, and leads you to writers you’d either never heard of or long since forgot about.

Kenneth Koch edited the first book of poetry I ever owned. Today I found a lovely and complicated poem that Koch wrote about his own father, “To My Father’s Business”. It illuminates how parental expectations, for better or worse, can play into our career choices.

I thought I might go crazy in the job
Staying in you
You whom I could love
But not be part of
Read the whole poem here.
My own father actually has had a lot to do with how I began writing–precisely by not pushing me, he left me room to evolve. Thanks, Dad!

Resilience | W.C. Fields

“Don’t worry about your heart. It will last as long as you live.”–W.C. Fields (shown below dispensing stellar financial advice)

Rejection, sweet rejection … Send me more rejection letters, Dear Publishers!! I can take it. In fact, I live for it. Besides, my heart, like Fields’, has been known to bounce back like a rubber ball.

Getting Over It (à la Snoopy)

schulz.jpg discomfort.jpg

Prior to my winter travels, I surfed out a fairly pitiful period of isolated, suburban existence. (Boo-hoo. See this entry.) I’ve thought a lot, then, about misery and creativity: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are the two mutually exclusive, or do they actually feed one another?

Years ago, my writer-philosopher friend was at once lost and found when he fell in love with his wife-to-be. “But if I’m happy,” he reasoned, “what will I have to write about?” The two are still married, and my friend is a banker. Did true, utterly fulfilled love kill his creativity?

David Lynch seems to accept no excuses for losing touch with the creative force, countering that, If you’re an artist, you’ve got to know about anger without being restricted by it.”

Continue reading

Spanish Shock Therapy

 

 

“She wants to hear
wine pouring.
She wants to taste
change.”

Rita Dove

For all the value I’d placed on travel in earlier posts, I confess that prior to this excursion to Spain, I’d failed to see the true power of a good trip. Sure, I understood that travel afforded loads of perspective, adventure, and relaxation. But I didn’t know how vital and transformative that could all be—because I’d never needed it as desperately as when I boarded the plane last week.

I had never been depressed before, which I suppose is pretty damned lucky after 32 years. But 3 months in the ‘burbs of Atlanta—with its14-lane highways and looming McMansions—slowed me down to an utter standstill. Every cell in my body huddled drearily in my skin, organs, teeth and bones until my body felt like some kind of shelter for the weak and weary. Believe it or not, I was hesitant to even take the trip at all. I was certain I’d lost any trace of a sharp, agile mind (which every traveller needs) to the seemingly endless logistics of my recent relocation.

But as the plane sped up and lifted off last Tuesday, I was physically shocked into a whole new mindset.

“Look, honey,” my partner pointed to the gargantuan strip mall where we’d inevitably been doing our shopping. He knew I hated the place, but was trying to raise my ire. “Camp Creek Parkway!”

I did not look back. Instead, I vowed that I would never set foot on that patch of asphalt again. In fact, I didn’t (and still don’t) know what I’d do when I landed again, but there would be no more life as usual. If I go back to Atlanta, it won’t be for long.

Landing in Barcelona, even my walk through the airport was electrifying. I was jolted into light, sound, and motion. God, I love motion. When we came upon the medieval streets of Barri Gotic, we stopped to sip our first café con leche—the first coffee drink I’d purchased in months that did not come from a corporate chain, thanks to Atlanta’s severe lack of independent coffeehouses. Hours later we were cocking our heads up at the wild spires of the famous cathedral, then feasting on cuttlefish and jamon, then sipping cava (with free refills, mind you) at a dark bar.

But it wasn’t the hedonistic indulgences that rocked me out of paralysis and back into my own true self. Lord knows I enjoyed our sunny day on the ancient ruins on La Costa Brava, and crashing at the quaint farmhouse in the Catalonian countryside. But it was simply the experience of that flight—the dramatic separation from the humdrum of everyday life—that made me feel the power of travel, the shift in perspective that I so needed. The rest has been gravy (… or should I say salsa).

That I’d harboured such deep doubts about this trip reminded me that sometimes closing my eyes and leaping is not such a bad idea. I suppose that sometimes that can lead to disaster—it certainly has before—but more often than not, it leads to new eschalons of opportunity and wonder.

On the surface, travel is a temporary escape that can squander loads of moolah and jack up your carbon output. But luckily, there’s more to life than what’s on the surface.

Home | Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

“When I speak of home, I speak of a place where–in default of a better–those I love are gathered together; and if that place were a gypsy’s tent, or a barn, I should call it by the same name notwithstanding.”

–Charles Dickens

I loved coming across this quote on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll certainly keep it with me as I spend the holiday season traveling, and continuing trying to cultivate that sense of home wherever I go.