I’ve changed in the past year; proof of this can be found in my blossoming love for moldy cheeses and my sudden distaste for all things exceedingly self-indulgent. In my file cabinet, a silly metaphor for life, under the “grades” folder I’ve become better in the past few months. In the “procrastination” file, let’s just say that waiting till the last minute is the biggest source of malfunctions for this squeaky robot. But there’s good news! In the “general wellness and character” folder, I realized I grow a little better each day, fresh with mistakes and the clarity they bring from the day prior. Self-awareness seems to be the key to leading a life of which you’re the screenwriter and not just the viewer.

Travel is conducive to exponential growth of the “general wellness and character” sort. In a practical way, it puts everything you know on the line and highlights everything you don’t know. Some may be afraid or intimidated by this, but the vulnerability is necessary to become better, like a vaccine for stupidity. Splorin’ foreign countries forces me to think about dilemmas I would not think of otherwise – where will I sleep tonight? Do I have enough money for this Mongolian hat? If not, what should I sacrifice in order to afford this Mongolian hat? And when things inevitably go awry, all you can hope for is to come out of it safely with a good story under your belt.

This brings me to my next topic, which is my summer trip. I am embarking on a three month journey through Europe, Central Asia, and Asia, St. Petersburg to Kathmandu to be exact. It’s a strange trip, indeed, and people are often left wordless in response. Who knows? Maybe I’ll run into people on the Transsiberian Railway WHO HAD THE EXACT SAME IDEA. I would be both dismayed, surprised, and comforted to know that there are other crazies out there.

I leave in 6 days with my two good friends, each of who are starting their own blogs. And in the midst of final preparations and the announcement of my compatriots’ sites who are just joining the blogging wagon, it’s all becoming real, but not as real as it feels when you’re going through security at the airport. All I can hope for is to use my 20 years of knowledge wisely (which is something but at the same time hardly anything) and to come back with many stories, many photos, many laughs, and as little malfunctions as possible. Actually, I don’t wish for that last thing because everyone knows adventure is just bad planning.

I talk about our bucket list here. I am adding to this list: be chased through an Asian slum and solve a murder mystery on a train.

Feel free to follow the blogs of my comrades, who will give insight into how awesome I am –

Blake’s Blog: http://pagesfrommypassport.blogspot.com/

Misha’s Blog: http://thetasketernal.wordpress.com/