Todd's December doldrums

The things I think about when I’m feeling sorry for myself

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We planned to spend another eight months traveling around America, living in another eight new and interesting cities. And then we might settle down into one of them. But here we are back in Denver, with our travels (the “12 Cities, 1 Year” project) put on hold indefinitely until Beth goes through cancer treatment and gets back to good health. I occasionally feel sorry for myself that we’re back here, and a few things over the past month have set me off into a pretty negative space.


In the final stages of downsizing and preparing to begin our “12 Cities, 1 Year” project, I was worried we had too much stuff to fit in our Prius. I assumed we’d need to buy one of those rooftop cargo carriers. But a friend of mine who also has a Prius said, “Don’t forget about the secret compartment.” Huh? She explained how there’s an area under the deck in the hatchback area where you can store stuff. Even after having the car for over a year, I had no idea!

But I popped open the back deck, and found that she was right. We packed our emergency medical and first aid supplies in there, but there was still extra room. So we stuffed our winter parkas in there, too. We didn’t plan to need them during our year on the road, since we picked out our cities so that we’d be in the south in the winter time. But we put the coats in the car anyhow, just in case we found ourselves on top of some high mountain where it was chilly.

As we were driving back cross-country from Los Angeles to Denver the weekend after Thanksgiving, the temperature dropped and dropped and dropped. And by the time we got here, we found that it was winter – snow, ice, freezing. We had to open up that secret compartment for the first time in six months, and get out our winter coats. That really depressed me.


A couple weeks after we got back to Colorado, I finally had some time to do some editing on my film “Kung Fu Sushi Chefs” (KFSC). It’s a martial arts comedy that I’ve been working on for something like three years now. The footage is all shot, and the editor handed the project off to me about 90% edited, with just a couple dozen little things to fix and polish.

I was editing one day at a coffee shop and posted something to Facebook saying that I’m editing KFSC. A friend commented back, “It’s like you never left.” I know it seems like a small thing, but this really deflated me, not just because I was still working on this film so many months after it should have been finished, but because it really does seem to many of our old Colorado friends that nothing changed in the six months we were gone. Have we come full circle right back to where we started?


About three weeks after arriving back in Denver, I had a job interview with the company I used to work for. It wasn’t in the same group, but I would have been working for another group in the same office where I worked for nearly ten years. As I was driving to the office, my mind was running through interview questions they might ask, and I was also thinking of my other main worries – Beth’s health and where we should try to find a place to live.

I pulled out of my reverie about 15 minutes later as the car was pulling into the parking lot. I realized then that I hadn’t really consciously thought about where I was going, how to get there, what turns I needed to take, or anything like that. It was like the navigation part of my brain was on autopilot; I gave it a destination and it subconsciously drove the car there.

Even though I hadn’t been on any of these streets in six months, or even thought about any of these streets, the way to my old office was so ingrained in my muscle memory that it all just came back to me. When I realized this, I chuckled at how memory works. But then I realized how pathetic the whole situation was. I was back in the suburbia I worked so hard to leave, visiting the company I tried so hard to put behind me, interviewing for a job that was a step back in time about five years.


  1. I feel for you Todd…. Just when you thought you were free! I’m going through a bit of a depression too with my severed nerve pinky preventing me from playing guitar. And I had big plans to be a traveling musician until my band just dissolved and I was left looking for work like everyone else I was trying to NOT be like. But think of it not as a defeat, but as a preparation you didn’t plan for. You’ll still do the dream man. I’ll still do my dream, though an amended dream that better suites who I am.

    We’ve had the shortest day of the year already, so it’s only getting warmer from here! Hang in there buddy!

    1. Thanks! I’m hanging in there. Next up, I’ll write about how we’re keeping ourselves from slipping back into our “old life”.

  2. Thanks for being honest Todd. It’s crazy how an innocent comment can cut to a feeling you didn’t even know existed. You two seem strong and determined. Thanks also for including us in your journey. I think of Beth often.

  3. I felt so sad when I read this post. I knew some of it, of course, but I didn’t understand the extent.

    I remember back in Seattle, our second city, I would get into a similar mood. I would think, “Here I am sitting in an apartment (instead of my office) editing (just like the old days). How has anything changed? I’m in a new city, but my life seems so much the same.”

    It’s not just the location that needs to change, but also the goals themselves.

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