It has only been a week since my first order of one hundred Hey Boomers Dust Off Your Backpacks books arrived from Lightning Source. And what a confirming week it has been! I already had my first internet order from this blogsite, so I popped one in the mail bound for North Carolina. After hand-delivering a few books to those who were waiting breathlessly to see one and to begin their reading, I began to think about the publicity that I would now have to begin in earnest. That will be an ongoing process of sending press releases and, once in awhile, a book for review or to request interviews.
Then, I went to a Book Club meeting and my friend, Fawn, mentioned that I had just published mine and proudly passed around her new copy. They decided, on the spot, to make my book the November selection for the club and all of the girls gathered around to buy copies, sometimes two for Christmas gifts, or for that someone whom they knew “needed to read this.” Luckily, I had put a box of the books in the car and was prepared for this sudden run on seventeen books, hot off the press. So, now, I’m scheduled to give two talks in November, right in the same week…one to this book club and one at the Dunedin Library. Actually, with the club, I get to sit quietly while they discuss it (Ohhhh, I LOVE that idea) and then be available for questions.
I had my proof copy with me at the stadium for the political rally for Obama’s visit on Tuesday, and the woman sitting next to me wanted to buy that dog-earred copy off of me. But, I wouldn’t sell. It’s too precious. She too, could think of someone else who “really should read this,” and was already figuring out a Christmas shopping list. I hope she comes to this blogsite or Amazon.com to make good her decisions. The woman next to her also got in on the act and wanted some too, just from the brief look at mine and a hint of what is inside.
Yesterday, I accompanied Fawn to her speech at the Sarasota Newcomers Club to handle her book sales, and as we had hoped, those ladies snapped me up as a speaker for next summer, since I will be away between January and May traveling on my next around the world trip. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.
When I returned home, my son’s friend, Tony, bought a book and has just emailed us that his Mom is now reading it and loves it. She’s my age, but is not in good health. This way, she can go vicariously to all of the places of the world, cruising along in her easy chair. That’s what I have hoped for in the writing of this. Not only to speak to boomers who are the natural travelers and who will be doing this as a matter of course, but to all of those who will never go, for one reason or another, but who can now feel as if they, too, have personally been in these many touristed and un-touristed spots in the world. I hope that all can enjoy the strange and wonderful things that I experienced.
At that Obama rally, I just couldn’t resist approaching members of the media as they either interviewed us, or stood in line at the press table waiting to enter the stadium. I gave them my card and told them to call me. Guess what? They all were happy to hear about this and some even asked me for more cards as they knew who they wanted to refer me to. They could recognize a story when they saw one. And that leads me to the incident that happened at the first of this week, when my book itself caught the eye of a reporter.
I went to the small post office in Dunedin and showed the friendly lady behind the counter the reason for all of this media mail I was beginning to send out. Then, I turned to leave and was asked to comment about the Obama visit to town by a local reporter. So, I put my book down on a pile of tee shirts for sale on the counter while I discussed politics. The book slid off, plop onto the floor, and in picking it up for me, he became enchanted with the cover and then learned that I was the author and a little bit about the theme. So, he decided to get back to me for a larger interview than this one, commenting about how my book seemed to have selected him.
So, that’s the story of my first week as an author. Sunday will be the biggest day of all, as it is my Book Launch Party at Fawn’s house, where I will give a speech and sign some books and we will all have a real celebration for this great Big Event – my first book sent out into the world.
Every now and then, I plan to give you a sneak peek at my Hey Boomers, Dust Off Your Backpacks book. so, here’s a sample that you might be able to identify with. Everyone who has ever crossed a border knows how it feels to suddenly have to operate in a new currency. There’s always a learning curve and it’s very helpful to equip yourself with a pocket calculator to work your way through the whole experience. Well, Poland’s monetary unit, the little zloty, (the plural is zlotych) was in a category all unto itself. Here’s the story, shortened to fit in here:
“At the train station, I finally found an ATM and drew out 800 Polish zlotych, without knowing the exchange rate. It’s so necessary to know this very important fact, even in order to understand how much you’re drawing down your debit account. On my way out to find a taxi, I inquired about the exchange rate and was told that $3.50 equals one zloty. Omigosh, if that’s true, then I had just withdrawn $2800 from my account and that was not good at all. I spent a moment of panic in the cab, thinking that my bank must have lent me the $800 above my current balance, and how could I repay that costly loan? But, then I talked some logic into myself and was sure that he meant that one dollar equals 350 zlotych, which meant that I had only withdrawn $28 and was completely safe…
Later: “I’m absolutely in shock and can’t really believe what appears to be the case about the exchange rate of the dollar to the local currency. By now, I’m very accustomed to sliding easily into a new value system whenever I cross a border. I simply need to know how many local tolars, koronas, forints, or zlotych that my one dollar will buy and then I can do the math on what things are costing. But, this challenge has absolutely thrown me and I don’t dare buy anything except my meals until I believe what actually seems to be the case. At the moment, things don’t compute (again) because everything seems to be so very cheap, costing only pennies and that doesn’t feel right. I have checked at the exchange boards and every one says that the dollar equals 320 zlotych. Guess the station guy was a little out of date, but with this reckoning a shirt costs fifteen cents and my Chinese lunch today cost a nickel. Other hostel guests aren’t from America, so they don’t use, or relate to, the dollar. I can’t consult with them.”
The next day: “At breakfast, I solved the mystery of Poland’s monetary unit, the apparently bizarre little zloty. It’s very simple. The exchange boards in Poland are using one hundred dollars as a base, not one dollar, as has been the case in all the other countries I have been in. So, the single dollar is worth 3.20 zlotych. Now things fall into place realistically. I should have figured that out, but I’ve never seen the exchange rate posted on a base of one hundred. Now I’m on solid ground again. I was quite correct not to believe what my senses were telling me when I looked at all of those exchange boards.
A girl named Cat cleared this up, saying that she had found the explanation somewhere in very small print. Cat’s a student of International Relations, a junior, studying at American University in Washington, after having spent one year in Spain and a summer in London. She came to Poland for a few days before flying home and back to a “normal life” and she’s wondering how she can ever return to the society of our immature college youth, with their high dramatics over trivia, after having spent a year abroad.”
Sometimes, you might get to wondering if you are cut out for a lovely serving of unobstructed adventure travel overseas, in a new and different country…but, you really don’t know what you would be letting yourself in for. Exactly, what is it that’s contained in that one term, anyway? We all see those tempting ads and then we often feel much younger than we really are at the very idea of having so much fun. How about it, body? Are you ready for me to drag you half way around the globe and string you up on a jungle canopy ride?
Just how much adventure are you ready to bite off, anyway?
Well, don’t just sit there in that easy chair, reading the catalogue that has just arrived in the mail, promising world class overseas adventures if you would but take a trip with a certain travel company. Some of them even provide comfortable hotels to take refuge in after hiking the Sahara, or whatever. You owe it to yourself to look into it. You’d be surprised to learn how many great trips have various categories of difficulty… all the way from five-star luxury to the most basic of accommodations and levels of culture shock. Many even offer excellent budget travel tips and advice because they are so passionate about their commitment to the global economy or to local projects in their destination countries. Sometimes, you can participate in volunteer activities in many out of the way places.
Especially if you’re interested in adventure travel in which you don’t have to be an already seasoned outdoors person, you can find companies which provide backpacking for beginners. Check out the trips described by these two adventure travel companies:
www.intrepidtravel.com or www.bootsnall.com
to see just what a range of trip styles await you in the fantastic vacation possibilty called Overseas Adventure Travel.
Some adventure travel companies even encourage you to take along the grandchildren or to actually get around independently using their company simply as your overall planners. No longer does travel have to be a one-size-fits all deal. You are in charge here, more and more, as other people elect to stay home because of the economy. That’s the time when the tough really get going. Plus, it’s not nearly as crowded out there on the interesting by-ways that the world has to offer these days.
A monster named Ike roared over Galveston in the night, and in the morning, everything was gone. The sand spit had returned to its original status with almost no trace of the population that had partied all this summer. News channels now describe the calamity as “apocalyptic” and, indeed, “the End of the World” does seem like a very appropriate appellation. It certainly was the end of life as many citizens there knew it, though the future of the area is anybody’s guess right now.
Every one of us can imagine the shell-shock we would feel to return to a place we thought we knew well and to find it a completely different landscape…maybe more like a moonscape. We all would walk about like the blind, hardly registering the implications.
Weirdly, those unfortunate Texans have become a symbol of the shock that millions of Americans, still safe in their well-appointed homes, are registering today after a different sort of a monstor roared across their own lives in the dark of the night. Would you name that monster Lehman, or just plain Collapse? In the raw light of dawn, jobs, bank accounts, stocks, companies, secure futures, college plans…have all been obliterated. Yesterday, they existed. Today, they do not.
Those of us watching from afar, wonder what the shakedown will be and if, and how, this tragedy will spread its tenacles to places that we have always thought of as enclaves of safety. “Is this a malignant cancer?” we ask ourselves with trepidation? “Probably,” comes the echo within our own skull as we look around at familiar surroundings with new eyes, suddenly stripped of blinders. And that simple basic question repeats in our quaking heart, “Will it spread to me?”
But what about those millions of Americans who have just had a double sucker-punch, here in the middle of a lovely September, when back to school and football games are usually front and center? They have lost all of the above if their home was dismantled by water and their finances just went up in smoke because of simultaneous, but unrelated, calamities? Everything that once appeared solid has proved to be a chimera, instead. The dream life became a nightmare while they were sleeping.
That crazy old professor was right. Remember, the one who refused to take off his snowshoes, even in the house? He had seen too far into reality and understood that the molecules were actually not connected to each other but moved loosely around inside of matter. So, he was afraid of falling through. Everyone believed that he was crazy.
I think that, today, a Texan would understand the way he felt.
This time last week I was in Washington, DC, attending the massive AARP Convention and networking to promote my book. Being among 40,000 of the most interesting and active people over 50 whom you will ever meet was a great experience but it brought home to me the true significance of the power of blogging.
At this moment, you and I are essentially meeting face to face…in a way. But, in that milling AARP crowd, I wasn’t able to engage anyone as significantly as I am engaging you, a perfect stranger, right now. This is evidence of a seismic shift in world affairs when you think about it. Suddenly, being in the same room is secondary to the kind of thought transmission that is possible only through the absolutely democratic and unregulated, freeform avenue of a blog. I couldn’t speak to the stranger sitting next to me as intimately as I can speak to any stranger who visits this Hey Boomers site.
Now, what does this have to do with sudoku? Well, that little Japanese math grid has become all the rage among the senior set for keeping their minds active and staving off brain calcification. That and the crossword puzzle. And, yes, I actually did see a number of people diligently working their daily puzzle as if it were a necessary vitamin. But, ohmigosh, let me tell you that book writing and blog learning are highly superior in the way of gray matter exercise, all the way around. There is so much to learn about these subjects that I can just feel my head bulging muscularly.
When I was learning about publishing, I bought at least a dozen books from Amazon.com and studied them all to become an “expert” with my first book, just now successfully off the press. It was daunting to cope with all of that information. Now, I’m faced with the same need to understand the world I have entered as a blogger, particularly if I wish for this venture to become more than just a way to insert my thoughts into cyberspace.
If the exercise begins and ends with words on the wind, then there’s no reason to try to understand the system behind it. I’m already accomplishing that. But, if I want to tap into the potential here, which has only just come along to the occupants of Planet Earth, then I will become a student at this late stage of my life and cram as hard as I can until my well-developed brain suddenly has the tools it needs to see the light.
When I can come out of the long, dark tunnel of confusion and see how this all fits together, in the greater scheme of things, I can actually use it from then on to my benefit. Not only can I sell my book but I will become an integral part of an organic, pulsating lifeform which is embryonically creating its own cells right now. This lifeform is the future of our economic basis of civilization, little does anyone know, at this moment.
Just this earliest exposure to the greater world behind the blog has given me that clue. Once one grasps the fundamentals and you borg yourself into its structure, then it will carry you along as an embedded being in this brand new economy which is selecting its members right now. I plan to immerse myself in all the training I can get and I’ll take that over sudoku any day.
I actually do feel like a brand-new mother these past few days and am running around sticking a bottle in one mouth with one hand, while typing on a lively set of twins with the other. This is the day I’ve been anticipating for a year now. The twins, born just a little while ago, are my two very attractive and delightful blogs. You are looking at one of them and the other is also named Hey Boomers, but resides on the general blogsite of BootsnAll.com, the definitive around-the-world backpacking site.
So, these little fellas used to get my undivided attention while I learned how to parent/blog on both of them. But, their little brother, a book, also named Hey Boomers, (Dust Off Your Backpacks), is now in the world and Mama can’t spend all her time tending the twins any more. Mama needs to learn the absolute necessities required by this entirely new sort of an entity. The pregnancy was long and heavy-duty while I learned how to physically produce a book. The birth occurred a few days ago and… ohmigosh! Am I a proud parent! It’s the most beautiful book in the world!
But, it’s as if college looms right around the corner for this precocious one and I must begin to do all the right things if it is to reach its full potential. And, I must do them all NOW, rather than later. So, three children must suddenly learn to share……………..before #4 arrives on the scene.
And yes, #4 is slightly more than a gleam in my eye right now. Call her a Plan. She is my next trip around the world and she must be fully ready to leave the house by early January. So, conception and a new pregnancy will be managed and chronicled in future posts to my two big-kid blogs. Stay tuned to keep pace with this active family.
Quite possibly the oldest solo, around-the-world backpacker, Linda J. Brown spent a year exploring the globe in 2005; turning 68 midway through the journey. She calls out specifically to Leading Edge Baby Boomers, challenging them to reclaim their free-form traveling days of the 1960’s – this time on Social Security.
What’s it like to be pushing seventy and carrying an 85-litre backpack, sleeping in hostels, riding local buses and trains, getting yourself around whole continents for a year – alone? In her new book, Hey Boomers, Dust Off Your Backpacks, seasoned world traveler, Linda J. Brown describes adventures in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Egypt, India and Thailand; telling of the people she meets, the lessons she learned and the beauty she found. Thriving on a limited budget and making her plans as she went, Brown busts the myth that the world is a dangerous place.
She is already making plans to circle the Southern Hemisphere, East to West, in 2009, when she will be 71. Stay tuned for the next book in this series.