#FriFotos: New

Our new office

Our new office.

These are some photos of my new home.

Our new bedroom.

Our new bedroom.

Our old apartment was flooded with three and a half feet of water during Hurricane Sandy.  We lost some things, gained some things, but we knew that as long as we had each other, it would be okay.  Perfecting the art of “suburban vagabonding,” we drifted from home to home in search of a place to settle down.  Now we’ve found it, we’re moving in a few days, and we can restart our lives once more.

Our new living room.

Our new living room.

A life of travel is uncertain and unstable, but that’s part of the bargain – nomading your way around the world with no expectations because it’s about the journey, not about the place.  When you know there is no home to go home to, you just keep going until you want to stop.  For us, it was different – we knew where we wanted to be, but couldn’t get there, so the uncertainty and instability was crippling. It’s not like “If Jaipur sucks, that’s okay, I’ll just head to Chennai.”  If a friend’s couch or a relative’s air mattress sucks, we had to deal with it, because we still had to go to the same job and the same school and see the same people as though our lives were never affected by a devastating act of nature.

Our new basement.  This is clearly where the disco parties are going to happen.

Our new basement. This is clearly where the disco parties are going to happen.

I’ve never thought much about the idea of “home” until I lost mine.  Like many on Long Island, all I could think of was the day I’d walk through my own door and eat dinner at my own kitchen table and read my own books again.  Simple things we take for granted.  I am happy to say our new home is even bigger and better and we are looking forward to rebuilding and we are not going to move, from the couch, or the community, for a very long time.

Katka’s Passports With Purpose Donation Wishlist

The amount of love and giving I’ve received from friends, family and perfect strangers due to my own personal Hurricane Sandy experience has been overwhelming. I wake up every day, thankful to have such wonderful people in my life. So it’s time to give back! I’ve been especially generous this holiday season because so many have been generous to me. And I’ve gone a little overboard with my donations to Passports with Purpose, a non-profit group that links travel bloggers, fundraising and fun every year in pursuit of helping those in need.

When my apartment flooded during Hurricane Sandy, many of our amenities were shut off. We had no heat, electricity or clean water for days. Eventually, these everyday items were returned to us but it was difficult to fathom life without them. Now take developing nations, such as Haiti, with citizens who still struggle to rebuild their lives after a devastating earthquake in 2009. If you’ve ever lived a day without clean water, you know how harrowing it can be. Try living an entire lifetime.

Not only am I in the running for some super cool prizes donated by famous travel bloggers, but every $10 I donate goes directly towards building clean water wells in Haitian communities. You can be a part of this too! Check out the sweet prizes I bid for:

A Glorious Week in Provence (theprovencepost.blogspot.com)
A week in a villa in St. Remy de Provence, with meals in top restaurants, private guided tours, massages and much more. This is like, the ultimate romantic getaway and if I win this, I think I’d pee my pants out of joy.

$100 Amazon.com e-gift card (onmyfeetorinmymind.com)
$100 Amazon.com e-gift card. Most of my things are corroded with salt water from Hurricane Sandy’s tidal surges. An Amazon gift card could help me replace some desperately needed items.

B&H Photo Gift Certificate (escapenewyork.blogspot.com)
$100 gift certificate to B&H Photo which can be redeemed online or in store. B&H is local to me and I just bought a super cute DSLR. Would love to pick up a pancake lens to make it ultimately portable!

Exclusive Atlanta Experience at Omni CNN Center (includes a swim with Whale Sharks!) (www.fieldtripswithsue.com)
An exclusive Atlanta experience at the four-diamond Omni Hotel at CNN Center in the Coca-Cola Suite plus attraction tickets and a swim w/whale sharks! I don’t have a lot of vacation time so I’m looking for some nice long-weekends or stay-cations. I’ve never been to Atlanta before but this would be a wonderful little break packed with super fun activities!

Three-night stay at Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua (www.everthenomad.com)
A three-night stay at Jicaro Island Ecolodge, with lodging, non-alcoholic beverages and three daily meals, for two people. This property looks GORGEOUS and would make for a wonderful long weekend with a special someone. It’s inclusive enough and would be so great to spend three days relaxing in the pool or on the lake.

$200 voucher toward flights on Skyscanner (www.gobackpacking.com)
$200 voucher to use toward booking a flight or flights(s) found on Skyscanner.net. Any dollar bills off the cost of my flight is worth trying for!

HTC Titan (www.idelish.com)
Two Windows Phone 7 (upgradable to Windows Phone 7.5) – HTC Titan and HTC Titan II (MSRP: $550 each). Winner will receive both phones. This one I hope to win for my folks, who are in desperate need of an upgrade from the flip phone of the 20th century haha.

3 Day Big Sky, MT and Yellowstone Family Adventure (blog.trekaroo.com)
Lodging at BucksT4, a luxury tour of Yellowstone, adventures at Big Sky Resort, & a day out for mom and dad at Moonlight Basin (babysitting included). Again, this seems like a great package for a long-weekend getaway to an adventurous place. I loved seeing the geologic wonders in Iceland, Yellowstone would be a great comparison!

$1,000 vacation rental anywhere from HomeAway (www.alloverthemap.net)
$1,000 to use in any of HomeAway’s 350,000 vacation rentals worldwide! My family goes to the Jersey Shore every year and rents homes at crazy-expensive prices. Would love to use this voucher towards a week at the beach, or perhaps an exotic location somewhere else!

Please consider making a donation to this great cause. You can read more about the donation process here. It’s not too late to donate but December 11 is the last day, so hurry up! Hand out those Hamiltons for a chance to go somewhere cool!

Would love to win some long-weekend vacays for my man and I!

NaNoWriMo: The Winner Takes It All

I briefly posted last week that I had achieved the goal of completing a 50,000 word novel by November 30th, 2012. This is exciting for me because A) my discipline was able to motivate me and help me forge ahead and B) it’s just proof that I can do it at all.

I recently had an argument with a former classmate on the concept of writing a certain amount of pages for an academic paper within a certain amount of time. Her excuse was that people have lives outside of school and when deadlines are not structured into the completion of the program, it’s nearly impossible to hand in an assignment on time. My reasoning was that if you care about something, you make time for it. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time even – during NaNoWriMo I was always able to find a solitary hour or two to write even during my hectic full-time school/full-time work/full time Hurricane Sandy junk. Why?

Because achieving the goal of NaNoWriMo was important to me.

The amount of effort we put into activities dictates our passion towards them. Think of a high school or class that you excelled in – why do you think you did so well? Because you cared about it enough to put the time in and get a good grade.

And there is definitely a difference between not being able to do something, and not full on not caring. Just because you don’t care about something doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that you are funnelling your energy and time into stuff that you do care about. I think that’s admirable and everyone has their own priorities. For example, I have math homework that I put off allllll the time to write travel articles instead. Am I the worst person in the world for not wanting to do math? No. It will get done. Just not as fast as I get my travel writing done…

So I am thrilled to have accomplished NaNoWriMo the first time around, and I can’t wait to participate next year. At this point, it’s time to revise and edit the content and see if it is worth publishing. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to that now – in the process of finishing schools and possibly moving. After this semester ends, things will be better.

How was your NaNoWriMo experience? Were you able to reach the 50k goal?

NaNoWriMo Update: The Home Stretch

I did it! Hooray!

Word count: 44,253  Goal: 50,000

One more day to reach 50k! Although NaNoWriMo has definitely been harder than I thought, I think I’ll finish on time. Writing the content is the easy part, it’s finding the time to write that is the issue. After all the personal challenges I’ve faced lately I am proud that I’ve gotten this far, and created something very special.

I’m just pissed though, because I only discovered the NaNoWriMo website the other day. I could have been tracking my progress, connected with like-minded WriMos, participated in local write-ins and more. Oh well – now I’m registered and I can be more proactive next year.

So now that NaNoWriMo is over, I can concentrate on bigger things – like my new website! Be on the lookout for katkatravels.com, where you’ll find a more personalized version of this blog, along with some more professional information and links to other sources. Yay!

Did you reach your NaNoWriMo goal? Are you a part of the NaNoWriMo community online? Let me know your user name and we’ll become buddies!

NaNoWriMo Update: Losing Steam



Word count as of today: 41,006 (out of 50,000)

I’ve fallen behind on my NaNoWriMo schedule.  The past few days were filled with several events that kept me away from computers for a majority of the day and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of 5 pages per night.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  I’ve also been engrossed in several projects, professionally and academically, which of course have to take precedence.  I know it’s cliche, but there really aren’t enough hours in a day to do all of the things I need to do!

I’m satisfied with the work I’ve produced thus far however.  Every day something new happens that I can add to my story and make it authentic. What I’m hoping arises from this project is how amazing people really are.  The amount of resilience, kindness and power people have offered during this tragic time is truly astounding.  It’s been almost five weeks since the storm hit but for many, their lives are starting to get back to normal thanks to help from others.  People just want to help, and I, along with those in more need, are eternally grateful for this.  It has really restored within me a sense of hope and acknowledgement that yes, there are assholes out there but when the time calls for it, people really band together and make good.

So I have to be more diligent about my work and try to cram in a page or two whenever I get a free moment.  I’d really like to make a significant dent in this project just to prove to myself that I am capable of writing something cool within a short amount of time.  Whether or not this goes on to be published, I don’t know, but at least I’ll be able to say to myself “You did it!  Congratulations!” and maybe buy myself a drink.

Have you had any trouble with your NaNoWriMo process?  What have you done to remedy the situation?