In the Land of Rising Sushi


By the time you read this, I'll have been in Japan for over a week. Have you noticed I was gone?

This is a monumental juncture in my career, my devoted readers… the first time I've traveled without my laptop, and the first vacation I've taken without doing work, since I birthed in 2002. Imagine that: A vacation without work? How novel.

Oh, I'm not complaining. I'm delighted with my flexible, self-managed schedule, which frees me up to take trips whenever the itch beckons me. But trust me, it's not always fun interrupting relaxing visits with friends or a full day's slate of sightseeing, to sequester myself in a hotel room and crank out a litany of horoscopic witticisms and astro-essays. Oh, yeah… I'm not complaining.

The truth is, I love my job. And now that I've (mostly) processed past the internal voices telling me I'm lazy and must keep doing more to be worthy, I'm discovering I possess a bit of a workaholic streak. Call it 'the Pathological-Need-to-Achieve Syndrome', and you'll find my picture in the index, next to an outline of everything I still must accomplish before I'll be satisfied I'm fulfilling my potential. Even describing the whole complex to you makes me want to scream, 'Shut up, already!'

As I was making my plans to spend two weeks in Tokyo, to visit a dear friend and wander around a zillion cute shops and temples and museums and cafes, I couldn't shake the dread of imagining disrupting the flow of my trip to sit around and work. Not to mention the foreseen annoyance of schlepping that damn computer across the world again, when I'd rather fill that luggage space with clothes to wear and gifts to bring home.

So I did the unthinkable—I decided to create a way not to do work in Japan. It seems so obvious, I know. But for me, it was a groundbreaking realization. With the right planning, I could get everything done ahead of time and leave my astro-concerns at home. No Venus, no Mars (and definitely no Pluto!) for two whole weeks. Dare I dream?

Over the following weeks, I transformed myself into what can only be described as a horoscope-writing machine… filling every single day with words upon words upon more words. Let's not forget, I had to write all my horoscopes and articles for this site in advance—plus my scopes in FAMOUS Magazine and my weekly tips for their website—while still keeping current with what I was already doing. Some days, I couldn't even recall which week I was supposed to be working on.

I tell you this not to boast about how much sheer labor I'm capable of trooping through (a lot, apparently), nor to moan about how challenging it was to pull everything together in time (I'm not complaining, remember?)… simply to share with you my experience of breaking out of the box I'd put myself in. Prior to this trip, I lived with the belief I could never take any significant chunk of time off from my work. It was just part of the bargain: A dream job, self-employment, making a difference in people's lives, creative freedom and all that good stuff—in exchange for being chained to the internet, forced to write even when I didn't want to, so I could keep chugging along in my career. We all make these sorts of bargains, in one way or another.

Besides, I also take my commitment to you, loyal horoscope-checkers, very seriously. I couldn't very well leave you hanging horoscope-less, while I strolled the chic sidewalks of Omotesando and gulped down sake. That just wouldn't do.

Instead, I made a different choice. I built myself a true vacation, one during which work became something I'd merely discuss over tea, rather than worry about at any length. I organized myself weeks ahead, chugged through piles of things-to-do, and barely took a rest… though somehow still managing to make it to the gym and see a few friends. (My television-watching, alas, suffered greatly.) Then, I recruited someone to upload my files while I was gone (thanks, Frank), so I wouldn't have to do even the slightest bit of anything. And that was that.

I set a goal, which, prior to this moment, I'd thought to be rather impossible—taking time away from I created a plan. I worked hard. It wasn't easy. I completed it on time. I went on vacation, without your noticing… and now I know I can do it again.

I pulled it off, and you can, too—whatever it is. (Is it any coincidence that visiting Japan was on my Apr 05 list of wants?)

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. I'll be home in a few days. Photos forthcoming.