My husband Michael and I are opposites in styles and talents. Although he is always quick to add that we share many values and have cross-over interests. But the truth is, we are as different as two humans can be. Over the last sixteen years, we have managed a few big projects together — all of them under duress except the building of our home. Otherwise he runs his half of the world and I run mine. So, I was surprised a couple weeks ago when he jumped in without being solicited, and helped me to get my Vespa Voyages project off the ground. He bought my url, set up my Facebook group and such — I figured he was just being my tech guy. We had our first chance to really talk about the logistics of the trip during our drive to Chicago the other day.
The truth is, he has a motivation for helping me on this project, besides my being his wife and all... When I was just out of the hospital 10 years ago, and so sick that I could do nothing but lie in bed with a laptop on my knees, I drafted a book about my two-month experience in the ICU: the induced coma, what I was able to hear and understand, the delusions, my perceptions, the pain. Besides my husband, there are a number of people that wanted that book published, but when I was finally able to leave the house and go out for anything other than a trip to the doctor or pharmacy, I was done with that book. It did not matter that I had nearly finished that draft. I was as over it as anyone can be, and I believed I deserved a life. I hadn't figured out yet how to have one, but I wanted to spend every second of every day working at moving forward, rather then bemoaning the horrors of my time in the ICU or my struggles thereafter.
When I got the idea to do this trip and chronicle both my preparatory path before the tour and then the tour itself, somehow for me the book came back to life. I was willing to consider the book as the first half to having figured out how to live despite the issues. Now, back then, the issues were practically insurmountable; now they are just ever-present challenges. Life is bigger than the hassle and the pain, as I hope my chronicle here will show. This is what Michael wants told. He has been my dedicated companion through the hell and in creating an integrated life. He just wants the already-written book to be published. I hope that what I write next will be more compelling, but that's just me.
That brings us to the drive to Chicago.
We were driving from our home in Berrien County, Michigan to Chicago. Road trips have always been our best time for working through problems, filling each other in on information and stories, and brainstorming. Although this is our routine way of getting things done, a few trips have been more memorable than others. This one felt electric. I started by telling him that I'd begun to think about the technology for the trip — him being my tech guy.
I was firing the questions and he was firing back answers. Will my MacBook Air be too fragile to take? "No, it doesn't have moving parts. It is definitely the one to take. Either that or one you can drop from a cliff [the Panasonic Toughbook], but we already have the Air."
We talked about the satellite phone ("sat phones," as they're called) packages I found. We discussed inexpensive mini video cameras for diaries and how I might upload them to this blog on the fly. We talked about back-up drives and Internet storage.
Quite a number of people have recommended different cameras. Realistically, I know I don't take many pictures when I am traveling. I want to be in the experience and not interrupt it to pull myself out to record it. I also hate posing people, "Hey everybody come here, we are going to take a picture!" I just can't do it, so I didn't want to buy a particular camera for the job. We decided I could take Michael's Powershot for any snapshots I might want to take. (I pray I don't drop it in a river somewhere!)
We are going to look into a digital recorder and helmet mike for me to record my thoughts while on the scooter. Drives, backups, cloud storage, redundancies, paper journals, and also what software to use as I prepare — all these little details need to be considered and explored. I've been taking notes with TextEdit, and it is already getting chaotic. I'm trying to make sense of the gear I may need, lists about differing laws in the different countries, notes, sources.... Should I use ProCite which I have some experience with, or the new streamlined Google Notebook...
I tend to be very independent in the direction of my projects, so it is surprising to see how easily Michael has been able to jump in on this project without any direction from me and not ruffle my feathers. A few weeks ago Michael, set up a Facebook group for Vespa Voyages and I didn't think much of it as he was providing his usual tech services, but during this drive I could see that something more was happening. The whole sum is greater than its parts thing. Well, I'm beginning to believe we are going to see it here and I don't yet know the outcome. There is no way to know if the two stories will fit together as a unified work. His dream for reviving the first book may not happen, but for now he is happy to have it back on the table. As for me, I'm never better than I am when backed by Michael. Now it gets exciting.
Ara Lucia Ashburne is a writer, artist and director with physical and hidden disabilities. She is booking a reading tour, featuring selections from her narrative (August 10 – November 1 2011). She is also an advocate for International LGBT human rights, a social media votary, nerd lover, and food sensualist.
She divides her times between Berrien Springs, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.
You can also find her on her Facebook page at Ara Lucia Ashburne and on Twitter at @Ara_Lucia.