Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Answer: $950. The Question?

$950.  The question: How much does it cost to mail enough clothing, books, and video equipment to France and China to survive for a year, finish your PhD in psychology, and shoot two music videos?  6 boxes to China; 2 boxes to France.  Enough for me to survive and thrive for over a year. 

I purchased insurance for each of the packages too.  I asked how likely the packages are to arrive in China.  She told me that as long as the packages are not to Mexico, Brazil, or Italy, they probably will not get lost and will arrive.  How interesting!  I always knew Italian trains were often late, but packages too?!  And she told me I needed to worry about ITALY, and NOT China?!  That is CRAZY!  But I’m happy to have paid a little extra for the insurance to make sure I have money for clothing, a new video camera, new books, etc should they not arrive.

Off to the airport now.  Phone is scheduled to be deactivated on Jan 7th.  And then, it’s just email, FB, and Skype: unless I happen to buy a disposable French phone.  I will look into that once I get over there.

I’m a bit chagrined with how much it cost to send everything.  I didn’t even plan for ‘shipping costs’ when I planned my budget.  And so, I had to charge it all to my credit card, so as not to subtract from my liquid assets.  Not a huge deal, but I wish I had considered this all when doing my initial planning…   I did get a book royalty check for about $180 today though, and that’s helpful.  Every penny counts, right?!

I got a phone call from Lori today!  Her voice and her effervescence just makes me smile from ear to ear whenever I hear it.   She is one of my bestest of friends and... the first girl I ever kissed.  And it was on stage.  In underwear.  Me in boxers.  She in a silk teddy.  Junior year of high school at the Eastern Slope Playhouse in North Conway, NY.  The play: Equus. I played Alan; she played Jill, my girlfriend.  We've been really great friends ever since.  And she is the BEST modern dancer.  Just incredible.  It was so nice of her to think of me.  I miss her.  Always!  She was all ready to come visit me in China until I told her the cost of airfare.  Yeah, I know, Lori!  I so wish I were a millionaire and could just buy plane tickets and cars and stuff for my friends.  That is GOING to be so cool when it happens one day!  One day soon, I'm sure of it!

Okay, I have a 12:20pm German lesson, and then off to the airport at 1pm.  Au revoir, Etats Unis!  A la prochaine!

Monday, December 30, 2013

T-minus 36 hours and counting...

Monday morning
December 30, 2013
I am still awake!  Haven't slept a wink.  I JUST finished all of my accounting and bookkeeping for 2012 in Quickbooks.  I couldn’t bear to leave without having a full and clear picture of my financial situation, and I also want to be able to get my tax info to my accountant with as little hassle as possible: I will have enough to worry myself with overseas.  Now I am ALL DONE.  I just need to wait for my W2’s from Legal Aid Society and my book royalty statements, and W2s from the Army. 

I’m actually in better financial shape than I thought.  I managed to save up a lot of money these last two years thanks to my brilliant idea of moving back home with mom and dad.  Many people look down on my for moving back home, but in the back of my mind, I knew that it would only be temporarily, and if I had to pay rent, I would have no savings.  Instead, I have a nice travel purse.  Sure, it’s often been a pain living with mom, cause she can be difficult at times (isn’t every mother difficult at times?), but clearly it was and has been worth it: I can afford to go on a three-month sojourn through Europe before starting my paid teaching job in China.  Awesomeness.

Now, I need to make sure that I have $2000 set aside that I don’t touch.  I need $2000 when I arrive in China so I can pay my first and last months’ rent, plus security, and get a phone.  And I need money for food too during that first month.  I only get paid once a month, and since I start work on the 17th of March, I won’t get my first paycheck until April.  So if I don’t save at least $2000 on the side, I’m in big trouble upon arriving in Shanghai.  And I’m stoked: even with $2000 put aside, I will still have enough to cover my food and travel costs in France and Europe.  If I go over, I have a few credit cards I can use.  My Discover balance is $3000 now though.  And I owe $650 on Capital One.  So I’m already going into the trip a LITTLE in debt, but the good news is that I probably won’t have to go any MORE in debt.  And starting in April, I can start paying off the cards, and rebuilding my savings accounts.  Though when I get a couple more coaching clients (www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com), I will be able to start paying off the credit cards even before I arrive in China.

Truly, whenever I finish my bookkeeping, I always feel SO great.  I say this over and over, but it’s SO nice to know how much money I DON’T have, haha!  But seriously, it’s a wonderful feeling to be on top of your finances.  And there’s a zenlike effect that the bookkeeping itself has on me.  I listen to Pandora (usually the Aly & AJ station, or an Avril Lavigne station, or some Pachelbel) and I transfer all the numbers from all of my bank and credit card statements, and voila, eventually out come the P&L Statements, the Balance sheets, etc.  See: the MBA in Finance sure comes in handy.  :)

Wow, just one more day.  Just one more day.  Just one more day.

I admit that I was thinking about my ex a bit today, and I do miss her, but the truth is: I’m moving on.  Moving Forward!  Doing this trip/move/adventure was the best decision I could have made, and I’m ready to put her into my past.  Ahhhh…

In fact, I have to admit that in many ways, her breaking up with me has turned out to be a blessing:

I would never have started taking hiphop and house and dancehall classes at Broadway Dance Center had she not broken up with me.  And now, I'm a pretty good dancer!  The other day I was dancing in Grand Central, on the main concourse, listening to 'Brave' by Sara Bareilles, and 'Pompeii' by Bastille, 'Accidentally in Love' by Counting Crows, and 'Everything's Gonna Be Alright' by Naughty by Nature.  And I was hip hop dancing up a storm, and people were gathering around and clapping.  These two cute British chicks asked if they could dance with me while their friends took photos.  I can't WAIT to find a dance school in France, and certainly in Shanghai!

b) I would never have probably gone on this trip in the first place if she hadn't left me.  And this trip is like manna from heaven.  I think it's going to be life changing and positively fantastic on so many levels.  Yippee!
c) Finally, I would never have started studying languages so intently otherwise.  I started learning German once she left in hopes of impressing her should she ever take me back.  It didn't work, but I got hooked, and the study of German blossomed into the study of 20 other languages as well.  And I am BLOWN AWAY with the capacity of the human brain.  I never in a million years would have believed that it would be possible to actually study 20+ languages simultaneously, actually make progress in each, and not get totally confused unless... I were actually doing it, living it, and seeing it happen right before my very eyes. 

So, as is always the case, every terrible trauma has a silver lining.  Just took my 18+ months to see it.  But I'm smiling now.  Moving on to the next adventurous phase of my life.  And excited beyond measure to see what the next few weeks, months, and years have in store! 

Thanks for keeping up with my adventures!  HOOAH!

Oh, and if you'd like a free 15-minute career, business, or life consultation with me to see if my coaching services may be able to help you kick some major butt in 2014... let me know.  Visit www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com for my contact info.  I'd love to chat with you further.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2 days and counting...

Just had a great Russian lesson.  Went over the four different ways to say “Whose”: Masc, Fem, Neuter, and Plural.  And how cool: my Russian teacher Natasha lives in Moscow and I didn’t know this, but the Transiberian Railway runs all the way from Moscow to Beijing!  I thought it was just Russia alone.  She and I both were talking about Mongolia, and how neither of us have been there.  So she proposed that we each take the Transiberian Railway and meet in Mongolia.  Wouldn’t that be an adventure.  She would take her family; I would get a group of friends from China.  The train runs from Russia through Mongolia and into China. 

Another fun fact I learned while looking at a map: the tips of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan, and China all intersect: China from the south; Russia from the north; Kazakstan from the west, and Mongolia from the east.  That would be a pretty wild meeting place haha.  Seriously, check it out: go to google maps and look.  I wonder why THAT is the intersection point of all four countries, i.e. what's the history behind those borders.  Gotta look into that.

I checked the train timetables here:  http://www.traintomongolia.com/trans-mongolian-train-timetable/   Very very interesting.  Though I notice that it apparently takes about 7 days from Moscow to Beijing.  That doesn’t seem very ‘express’.

I was on the transiberian express once, from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  Back at Franklin College in Switzerland.  During a class trip.  Spent the night in a sleeper car, which was pretty cool.  There was no murder.  Though perhaps that’s only on the Orient Express.  Hmmm… :)

I have to do my damn accounting now, for 2013.  I want to finish all my Quickbooks bookkeeping before I leave, so I can just send the stuff to David at www.ActorTax.com from China, without having to do the bookkeeping over there.  If you want a great tax guy, he's wonderful.  But I’m still stuck in April 2013, and have many more months to catch up on.  I really should be doing that, and not writing in this journal/blog.

I really hope to find time to work on my novels again soon. I’ve neglected them for the last few weeks.  I’m up to about 18,000 words in Soul S.T.A.S.I.S. and I need about another 30,000 to be considered ‘novel length’.  And I need to start doing the research for Shanghai’d, another new novel I am working on, about the crazy practice back in the day that birthed the term of the same name.  And ugh, more PhD work.  My goal is still to finish the entire dissertation and earn my PhD by the end of 2014, but I’m not yet sure if that will be possible.  Which reminds me, I need to email again to Kim (my dissertation advisor) about whether he received my latest research proposal draft.  It got signed off by my other two committee members, and now it’s time for the ‘scientific merit review’ process.  If I get through that, then it’s IRB time, and then awesomeness: I can actually begin the research subject recruitment process.

And the movie.  Still waiting to hear back from the US distributor.  We're so close to finalizing a deal, and I really hope it happens in January.  Time will tell.

Hard to believe I’m only going to be here for another two days.  This time, in 48 hours, it’s off to the airport.  Oh, did you know that they use the Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolia.  Another fun fact.  Ya know, for the next time you're a) in Mongolia, b) trying to impress a friend, or c) are on Jeopardy haha.  But this is yet another reason I’m stoked about learning Russian and Bulgarian: the Cyrillic alphabet has multiple uses.  Not just for Russian.

I’m still so sick.  I think I’m sick AGAIN.  A new sickness.  I think hanging out with Nicole did me in.  I went over to her house to help put together her daughter’s dollhouse for Christmas last week, and she was coughing.  Nicole.  And I think I got whatever she had.  Lovely Christmas gift, haha.  No good deed goes unpunished.

It’s raining out now.  Drizzling.  The sounds of the droplets landing here and there is nice.  Soothing.  Calming.  Nothing lasts forever, even cold December rain.  That's a play on a GNR song, for those who may not be up to snuff on 90s music culture.  

I still can’t believe I’m doing this.  France, yes.  That’s understandable.  But China?  That’s just CRAZY!  Everyone wants to go to France for a few months; but who goes to China?!  FOR A YEAR?!   It’s so rugged, and ‘out there’!  Japan, Korea: they somehow seem more tame.  China feels like the wild west to me.  As wild a place as Iraq was.  As Africa.  That safari I went on in South Africa.  Living almost with the lions, in the tents, with a protective fence along side.  I remember walking along the fence at night, pitch black, tress all around, feeling like I was in Jurassic Park.  Waiting (and secretly hoping) that a lion would roar out from behind the other side of the fence.  And I would wrestle it to the ground.  Alas, I just day dreamed like Walter Mitty, and ended up crawling back into my tent with no stories to tell.  Well, scratch that: I just told a story.  Haha.  Yay, I got a story out of it after all!  And yes, I ended up seeing lions the next day when we actually went walking around.  Inside.  With no fences.  Pretty wild.  No pun intended :)

I should also update and post my acting reel before I leave.  It is almost done.  I really should do that.  Maybe I will try to work on that later today.  I don’t think I have time to make it ‘perfect’, but hey, as I love to say, ‘good now is better than perfect never’.   I also need to head into the city today to see one of coaching clients before I leave.  I promised I would try to seem him twice in person before we switch over to Skype, and well, it's important to be a man of my word.

I also got nominated to be a part of this new thing at Fryeburg Academy: the hall of excellence.  That’s a nice honor, regardless whether I get picked.  Thanks to whomever nominated me!

Okay, may the force be with you all.  I’ve got a million and a half things to do.  I am sure you do too.   So stop reading already and go do them!  Yes, I'm talking to you Monroe!  And YOU!  READER!  Chop chop!  Get moving.  Do what you need to do. :)

Three Days Till New Years on an Airplane!

Okay, packing for a trip is hard enough but today has been a puzzle of the highest magnitude: trying to decide what to bring on the plane; what to send ahead of me to France; what to send directly to China; what to leave here.  I fly on Tuesday afternoon.

I went to FedEx first, and yikes, a 15lb box would cost upwards of $250.  I asked if they had a slow boat to china, but they laughed, and said no.  Humph.  Next stop: Post Office.  Still expensive, but better: 30lb box to China about $130.  I also asked them if they had a slow boat to China, and the woman did NOT laugh.  Cause apparently, there really did use to be a slow boat to China.  But it's gone.  GONE!  WHY!  Apparently the Post Office stopped shipping by boat a few years ago.  All international freight is by air now.  Humph.  Again!  I originally planned to bring a lot more books, but alas, it's cost prohibitive as we can see.  I sure do love my books!--and some are simply necessary, unfortunately: my language books; my psychology books for my PhD; etc.  Pain in the butt.  I can't find them anywhere else, and I hate reading on an Ipad or kindle, so... sucks to be me.

Anyway, today has been quite the accomplishment in itself: I have managed to consolidate everything into 3 large boxes and 3 small boxes to China, with most of my clothing for a year, plus my books and whatnot.  And 1 large box and 1 small box to France, with some clothing and books. 
And finally my necessities for the next two weeks, since it will take at least 7 - 12 days for the boxes to arrive in France.

I'm sending the China-bound boxes care of my Chinese Language School, Mandarin House.  They are being truly accommodating.  I'm SO stoked to take Chinese lessons three mornings/week when I arrive!

But alas, my adventure is first taking me to France.  Landing in Paris on the 1st.  Ha--gonna spend New Year's on an Iberian Airlines plane (Spanish).  I'm sure this will end up being the one and only time I actually fall sound asleep on a long flight, and at midnight, I'm gonna get woken up with, "Feliz Nuevos Anos!"  My Spanish isn't so great, but I think that's how you say HNY.

I bought my Eurorail pass today as well at www.eurail.com.  That's a dream come true.  I've always wanted to 'backpack around Europe' and now I'm gonna do it: $660 for 15 days of continuous rail travel, starting March 1st.  I'm gonna be teaching at the high school in France until Feb 28th (a full two months), and then I'm off on a two-week adventure throughout Europe, starting in, I expect, Oslo, Norway.  It only costs $55 to fly from France to Oslo, and then I'll start taking the trains, speaking different languages along the way (how fun!) until I eventually end up in Rome, staying with my friends Roberto and Helen for a few days until flying to Shanghai.  Direct flight from Rome to Shanghai.  Leaving in the evening and arriving the next day in the afternoon.   

I got a text from one of my coworkers at work today.  She told me that I inspired her.  That my decision to leave my job as a public defender and go after my dreams inspired her to reevaluate her life, and what she is doing with hers.  I've been getting a lot of these emails/texts lately.  Really makes me smile.  I'm proud and excited to be living my dreams, and proud and excited to be inspiring others to pursue theirs as well!

Oh, my phone: I have to figure out what to do about that.  When to shut it off.  Do I get a disposable in France for two months, or just stick with wifi Skype on my iphone?   I did buy my foreign plug adaptors today, for France, and for China.  One less thing to worry about.  I'm really excited that I'm 90% done with the planning; that in 3 days, I will be on the trip.  Flying to Paris.  Wow.  And I'm sure, at 30,000 feet, thinking, "OH NO, I FORGOT TO ________!"

Oh, speaking of Skype, I had an hour chat with my host family mother, Veronique, yesterday.  She's awesome.  I really like her.  Neither she or her husband, or her two daughters speak English, and so I'm pretty stoked: we spoke in French the entire time, and it's how it will be for an entire two months.  And wow, how my French has improved.  The conversation was easy, and we talked about jobs, the weather, the best way to get to Barcelona, arrival times, about our families and our futures, and huh, I'm pretty proud of myself.  All this self study these last 5 years has actually paid off: my French is infinitely better than it was the last time I stayed with a host family in 2005 (during my two-week leave from Iraq.  Go figure that while everyone else took their break from war to go home, I chose to live with a French family and study French.  Haha!  That's me in a nutshell.  Haha)

So I'll be landing in Paris, and immediately taking a train for two hours to Lyons to see my friend Eva.  I was originally going to meet my friend Maura (German chick who is in university in Netherlands) but alas, her schedule didn't work out.  I'm excited to see Eva.  She's French, and lives in a town called, "Vienne" which is close to Lyons.  See: I was originally going to be teaching in a school in northern France, and to save money, I bought my plane ticket before my school placement was confirmed.  But in the end, I was placed in a high school in southwestern France, near the Spanish border.  8 hours by train from Paris!  Oh mon dieu!  But it's working out fine, because I'll hang with Eva for a few days up in Lyons (a city I have never been to), and schedule permitting, she is going to drive me down to Castres--by car it's apparently only 4 hours.  Isn't she a total sweetheart?  Oui, Eva, c'est vrai!  Tu es VRAIMENT gentille!  So we shall see.  She's super cool, and even though she speaks English, she loves speaking only in French with me, and I love it.  So for the few days I'm with her, it's more French immersion!  And we Skype every few days and I love speaking in French with her.  And she looovvveeeesss my accent.  Cause I'm soooooooo adorable.  (wink).

But coupled with my adorableness is a little sickness still.  Slight runny nose.  Headache.  Stuffy head.  But much better than I was last week.  I'm hoping to be on the plane with a clear head and a non-sniffly nose! 

That's it for now.  I think I'm gonna go check out the movie "Walter Mitty" now, either with my mom, or alone: I want to see as many movies as I can before I leave, cause pretty soon, I won't be seeing many films in English, I'm sure...  I hope she comes: I won't be seeing her for quite a long time.  I won't be seeing anyone from home really, unless you people come visit me! :)  I really wanted to have a farewall 'concert/speaking gig' but it's been too rushed and harried and I haven't had the time to plan it.  Maybe I can try to do something on Monday evening in Manhattan, but I'm not sure if I can find a venue and promote it.  On verra.

My damn neck is still twitching.  War injury from 2005.  From the body armor I had to wear constantly.  Nerve damage.  A doc two weeks ago gave me Baclafen, a muscle relaxer, to reduce the spasms, but I'm not so sure it works.  Just makes me tired.  I guess it's just a casualty of war I have to continue to learn to deal with.  We all have our struggles, alas, do we not?  But on the bright side, my leg is almost 85% better, thanks to the great physical therapy I received at Performance PT in Greenwich, CT.  Kevin, I miss you my love!  Haha.  My therapist and I have a very special, close relationship.  Though I doubt he will read this blog, so seriously, HOW CLOSE OF A RELATIONSHIP IS IT!?  KEVIN, WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME!?  WHY DON'T YOU READ MY BLOG!  I'M ONLY WRITING THIS BLOG AS A WAY TO SHOW MY LOVE FOR YOU!  I MISS YOU!  TU ME MANQUE!!! TU ME MANQUE!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! I Just Quit My Job!

It’s true!  I quit my cushy job as a public defender!  Two weeks’ notice two weeks ago, and on New Years Eve I fly to France and then China.
See, it’s been a good two years (aside from the terrible 18-month post-relationship-breakup depression!) and I learned a great deal, but I’ve always been one to follow my hunches and tackle my dreams.  Well, I got this cool job offer a while back but for various reasons, it doesn’t start until 2015.  So I decided to take these next 14 months and do something REALLY cool; something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. 

And so… I’m going to France first, to teach English in a French high school near the Spanish border.  I arrive in Paris on January 1st.  I’ll be living with a French family and my hope is to take my advanced French to a true level of fluency.  In March, I’m flying to Oslo, Norway and with a eurorail pass, taking the train down through Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, and down through Venice, and into Lugano, Switzerland where I’ll be giving a talk at my alma mater, Franklin College.  And seeing some friends along the way. 
Then down to Rome, Italy to stay with my good friend Roberto for a few days, and then, a direct flight to Shanghai, China, where I will be living for a year: studying Chinese three days a week; teaching English five days a week; and along the way, learning Kung Fu, shooting two new music videos from my album, and finishing two new screenplays and two novels I’ve been writing. And hoping to score a new non-fiction book deal.  Boomshakalaka.

And I decided two things:

a)      I am going to share my adventures and thoughts with you here on this blog.  Everyone loved my book, “To Benning & Back” which chronicled my adventures in Army basic training in day by day stream-of-consciousness journal format, so I figure it might be nice to do that here too: but on a public real-time blog.  Whoah!  Groundbreaking craziness!  But seriously, everyone always tells me that my life should be a reality show, so hey, why not a reality show in words?  As much as I can, I hope to share my life with you: the trials, the joys, the sorrows, the vindications, while protecting the innocent at all times. J  So I hope you will be sure to visit this website often: www.WhatIsMonroeDoingThisWeek.com  I think you will find it fun, funny, amusing, enlightening, and thoroughly enjoyable.  Or your money back!  (How does that work with a free blog?)

b)      I also relaunched my life, career, and business coaching business, under a new name: www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com  Awesome name, right?!  Of course, I still offer Unstoppable Artists Coaching under this new banner, but now also Time Zen Coaching; Guerrilla Networking Coaching; and General Life & Business Coaching, all based on my various books I have written, which you can find on Amazon/BN.  Check out the website www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com and see how I may be able to help you or a friend!  It’s amazing how Skype has revolutionized the world: I can keep in touch with friends overseas, and now, run a worldwide coaching business while I am traveling that very same world.  Romp on!
So the truth?  I’m a bit nervous.  About it all.  Why wouldn’t I be?  It was totally scary quitting my job, particularly since I will be getting paid far less in China, and also because so many of my law school buddies are still out of work.  But that’s always been me: never happy with security; always pushing the envelope and taking risks.  But yes, IT IS SCARY!  I’m probably not going to be back home for 15 months.  I’m leaving everything I know!  At the same time, it’s exhilarating.  I love travel.  I love foreign languages (I am studying 22 at the present moment, no joke).  And I have always wanted to work in France, and in China.  And voila, it’s happening.

I’m reading this great book now that my friend Robert Riger (Head guy at Pimsleur Language Products, Simon & Schuster) gave to me called, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris” by David McCullough and a few of the quotations jumped out at me.  See, in the 1830s, there was a huge exodus of Americans to Paris, always via tall ships and voyages lasting six weeks minimum on the rolling seas.  I feel as these people did.  Washington Irving wrote of his first trip across:
“But a wide sea voyage severs us at once.  It makes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world.  It interposes a gulf not merely imaginary, but real, between us and our homes--a gulf subjected to tempest and fear and uncertainty, rendering distance palpable, and return precarious.”

Although I am traveling by plane, the distance is the very same.  My job at Legal Aid Society ‘the secure anchorage of settled life’.  And the doubtful world: the vast continents of Europe and Asia that await me in this next year.
Charles Sumner, the once US Senator, wrote:

“A smacking breeze has sprung up, and we shall part this company soon; and then for the Atlantic!  Farewell then, my friends, my pursuits, my home, my country!  Each bellying wave on its rough crest carries me away.  The rocking vessel impedes my pen.  And now, as my head begins to slightly to reel, my imagination entertains the glorious prospects before me…”
And so too am I leaving my friends, my family, my home, my country.  Fortuitously perhaps, I don’t speak to my sisters anymore, and my ex is totally out of the picture, and my best friends all live across the country and the globe anyway (or in the city), so leaving is not as painful as I thought it might be.  For a while I thought I met this girl who would have made leaving really hard, but that didn’t work out, and thanks for that!  One thing that saddens me is that my dad is 92 years old (me 36) and I fear he might move on while I’m away.  But ya know, I thought the same thing in 1997 when I went to Switzerland for college, and when I got home, he was still alive and kicking—I’m sure the same will happen now.  He’s a hardy son of a bitch, and I hope I’m as virile as he is when I am 92. J  He was in Shanghai himself during World War II--he stayed at the Broadway Mansions hotel for four months, a hotel which is still standing!  I highly doubt he will fly over to see me, but at the very least, I'm gonna stay in that hotel one night, just as he did back in the day. :)

And that ‘rocking vessel’ Sumner talks about?  The turbulent aircraft.  Makes me smile, because I remember back in Officer Candidate School, with the US Army, I was selected to be a chopper pilot.  Only the best of the best get picked for flight school, and I was one of them.  And for a week, I was on top of the world.  I WAS GONNA BE MAVERICK BABY!  TOP GUN CHOPPER JOCK!  And then mom says, “Um, Monroe, you get airsick.”  Haha.  Damn, my armpits are sweating like crazy now!  Damn antiperspirant not working one iota.  Wait one sec: need to change my shirt.

Okay, anyway, when she said that, she struck a chord.  Today, I take Dramamine before every flight and I do fine.  But I always dreaded the two-hour helicopter missions in Iraq, and particularly when the bay doors were closed, and when we were over hostile territory: the chopper had to swerve a lot to avoid getting hit by possible antiaircraft rockets/RPGs.  But I am very proud of myself: I didn’t throw up once in Iraq!  Diarhhea: that’s another story. ;)
And finally Nathaniel Willis, as if speaking from my own mouth, wrote:

“The dream of my lifetime was about to be realized.  I was bound for France.”
As am I!  I’m super thrilled.  Super stoked.  Excited, excited, excited!  In a year, I will return to New York, speaking even better French; and NO WAY!—speaking, reading, writing, and understanding Mandarin Chinese!  A NY attorney with an MBA and who speaks Mandarin?  Sounds pretty employable to me!  And I will have lived in virtually every part of the globe: The New World, The Old; The Middle East; and Asia.  And with my continuing language studies with Living Language (Portuguese, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Arabic); Pimsleur (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Norwegian, Lithuanian, Swahili, and Turkish), Babbel (Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Danish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Turkish, and Spanish), and FSI (German, French, Chinese, and Bulgarian), I can honestly say that in three years, I WILL and AM GOING to speak at least 20 foreign languages at a conversational level.  Mark my words!  And check in with me in 2017. J 

P.S. if you like learning languages, buy the platinum language sets from Living Language at Amazon or www.LivingLanguage.com; email to www.Babbel.com and tell them you want all languages for a year and you will get a HUGE (I mean HUGE!) discount; go to www.PimsleurDigital.com and download amazing language products right to your iPhone / iPad; and for free, www.fsi-language-courses.com, direct from the US State Department, free thanks to public domain.
Well, that’s my update to you and a preview of what you can expect over the next year.  As always, I heartily encourage you to go kick some major ass, get OFF your ass, and stop being lazy.  You KNOW you are being lazy about something so just stop procrastinating already! 

P.S. - You can also sign up to receive direct updates via email.  Just visit www.EnoughExcusesAlready.com and sign up to my email list on the contact page.

P.P.S. - Merry Christmas to you!  I'm an unapologetic Christian, and today (and this entire holiday) is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  So there!  Happy birthday Jesus!  (that's HAYTHOOTH--I'm practicing my Spanish accent for my visit to BarTHHHHelona, haha) And if you want to read a TRULY inspiring book, read Joel Osteen's new one, "Break Out".  It should be your battle cry book for 2014.