05.11.24 [on the F train]

sprang! subway! no one is awake for a good reason! i couldn't fit a volunteer shift in last month and shouldn't really be starting with catchup now, i have a nasty week i should be pregaming, but the cats sense weakness and have been wedging my jet-lagged ass out of bed, so here we are. we did not see any of the solar-storm super-southern aurora borealis last night—even if it had been clear, light pollution is of course dreadful here—but i did see enough of it on social media to wish in the abstract that we were still in scandinavia. in practice i was in stockholm last friday, copenhagen the friday before that, and tulum the friday before that, so i'm pretty okay with never going anywhere ever again (except philadelphia next month for a rolling stones concert? i have no good excuse for that).

mexico was wonderful, the first press trip i've taken in a long time that made me feel like press trips are worth my time—which sounds silly, but since my main travel outlet switched over to all paranormal content a couple of years ago and i'm neither about to start ghost hunting nor especially interested in wooing new outlets, it's tricky to come up with ways to write about the things i'm invited to experience that don't make me feel like a shill. in truth i'm a writer who likes to travel rather than a travel writer, probably—one of the other americans on this trip was telling me about the industry conference i avoid every year and she and many of the writers i meet on these things seem to feel are indispensable, and it sounded like immersion therapy, or enhanced interrogation, or rush week at a southern school—matching with and speed-dating PR reps who then might or might not invite you to fly halfway around the world to spend two days at an all-inclusive resort devoted to steak, everclear, and show tunes, and while i get that this kind of full-body shudder is such niche privilege that i should just offer myself up as the first protein when the resource wars begin (you know they're coming soon, these lisa frank trapper keeper skies last night were no accident), wow, ritualizing what i do in a baldly networky way makes me want to walk into the sea. another beauty of the mexico trip is that for once i knew what (and that) i'd be writing about it before i accepted: a dear old friend from my magazine-staffer days asked if i would go and cook up a piece on solo travel for her new magazine, and that's very much the sort of thing i can get excited about doing. amusingly, though the trip was pitched to her/me as a gender-specific thing, other writers didn't arrive with that frame—and lo, there was a dude among us (two, counting the photographer/influencer who shot us all week). so technically a vagina travelogue it was not, though it functioned that way anyhow, a bit—beyond the collective appreciation of each other's sundresses and blouses that kicks off group meals on most temperate press trips, talk stayed reasonably clear of lady zones. despite my disdain for networking crap and industry gossip, i also picked up some interesting stuff about how other clients and markets work—like, if you're an australian writer it's hard to pitch a trip unless you're the only person in the country writing about it, and though US-based writers almost never feel obligated to promise coverage beforehand (and i can count on one hand the times i happen to have done it), it's standard practice in other places? i still haven't written about the cruise joe and i took last fall and the crazy bahamas trip that happened 16 hours after we got back from paris, and while i plan to get on that, i'm not especially excited about it. it feels significant that i haven't made much of an effort to fold these subjects into my pitches for the outlets i typically save for passion projects. am i quiet-quitting this phase of freelance writing, at least for now? mexico makes a compelling case for keeping an open mind—it was the perfect trip for me to take without joe, given the focus on swimming in caves and waking up before dawn to streak into the ocean. if i can position myself as my friend's startup's tropical goth crone, maybe i can wriggle out of the world of slideshows and bullet points and sing of iguanas in my own dialect. it has a certain something.