December 06, 2005

The problem with vacation

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

This is a mock article of Anderson Cooper's same-titled article. ( His from a rich, privileged, popular person's perspective; mine a poor, underprivileged, not-at-all-popular person's perspective.

Does anyone actually take vacations anymore? Pack up the wife, and the kids, go to the Grand Canyon ...

I think so. My boss went to Yellow Stone, with kids and a troop of others. My sister-in-law went to London before Thailand.

Do you think Brad and Matt really want to be frolicking at Clooney's place on Lake Como? Do you think Al Reynolds enjoys smearing suntan lotion on Star Jones like butter on a lobster at a Jamaican resort?

Maybe. Celebrities always do 2-in-1 vacations. They never stay in one place.

As a kid I used to fantasize vacations. Grown up so old, I have had just a few, far and between.

Paris Hilton has a house in the Hamptons, Rosie O'Donnell is planning a cruise, I've got nothing.

I think only the rich ones or the irresponsible take vacations.

Technically, that's true. If you are caught in the middle, dangling a little bit above poverty line, you are on your own.

I'm convinced a big reason I stay home and work full time was the fact that I am totally responsible. Now if I leave to take a vacation, I worry Emma would not be able to go to a decent preschool.

Even if I felt comfortable taking time off, I don't do vacations very well. By the second day I'm bored. Besides I have to be really careful not spending too much.

I used to think the problem was where I was vacationing, but it's not; the problem is me.

The last time I took a vacation, I went to a ex-professor's place in Philadelphia.

The intention was to show that I too was normal. I went to places and had something to tell. Part of the plan was to see America.

The plan was carried through. We spent half of the time in museums, which suited my professor's taste of being an Assyriologist. Then we hurried through the hustling New York.

I took a dozens of crap pictures and returned unenlightened, unimpressed.

The truth is, places fare so much better in imagination.

Isn't the whole idea of getting away from home, getting away from home? Why leave your home to stay in someone else's?

I do love nice hotels. There's nothing more fancier. Imagine yourself being served.

But the problem with hotels is that it's impossible to afford, especially you make a tiny fraction of what your boss makes and you really really want your kid to go to a good school.

I used to think I was the only one not taking my vacation days, but I recently saw a survey conducted by that said Americans fail to use 415 million days of vacation each year. Which helps explain why the average vacation in America has dwindled to just four days.

Europeans take off a month -- and that doesn't include siestas, strikes, or cigarette breaks.

Sure, Europe hasn't really produced anything of note since the Black Death, but who has time to gloat? Some people are too busy on the work trade mill, some are too busy worrying.

What's even worse than not taking vacation days is spending your working days just to think with your paycheck, you are to voluntarily forgo all your vacations.

When I came back to work everyone said the usual hellos and I replied with the usual "fine. How about you?" I learned that from my first-grade English textbooks.

I'm no social scientist, but I'm convinced there's a correlation between the decline of vacations and the rise of graphics fevers and movie crazes.

Here's my theory: Unable to take vacations, people are giving themselves miniature mind vacations.

Myself, a computer programmer, is a perfect example: Under constant threat of unproductive boredom, I now have taken on graphics design, photo editing as my hobby, after my interests in stocks, penpalling ... faded. And I have a set of movies days to celebrate. "I may not be able to go to Thailand," I say, "but after a chain of consciousness-changing movie ride, I don't really care."

Take my word for it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
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