Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Very Jordanian Christmas

T minus 1 month to departure.

I think the reality of study abroad hit me on Christmas.

A lot of my presents prepared me for Jordan somehow--conservative clothes (not that my wardrobe was overly risque to begin with; I wasn't planning on wearing Hooters T-shirts over there), books I'm supposed to read before leaving, a voice recorder for interviews, and a pocket dictionary. This is a good thing--I got the gift of anticipation, which is a pretty cool feeling.

But I really had to confront the fact that I'm leaving in a month when I talked on the phone with all of my relatives (a longstanding Hubbard family tradition on Christmas). Not only did I have to explain what I was doing to most of my extended family, but I also got some interesting nuggets of advice during those conversations.

From my grandma: "Be careful over there. They shoot people for no reason, you know."

From my uncle, who gave me a Macy's gift card: "Based on what I've heard, they [Macy's] have a great selection of turbans, so that should help you out a bit."

To his credit, my uncle was kidding (the jury's still out on my grandma). And after all of this, I got a text from Isaac: "Mr. Hubbard, enjoy your last Christ-centered celebration for the upcoming semester. Merry Christmas!"

Indeed. I'll take the time right now to wish everyone a (belated) Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year. In the foreseeable future, I'll be enjoying the holidays and doing some things I most likely won't be doing in Jordan (aka watching American football, devouring a stack of new books, re-watching all of Mad Men, and catching up with my homeboys). Hope everybody's break is going well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

About the URL

My site's URL is taken from a terrible ESPN2 reality show that I was briefly obsessed with during freshman year of high school. On a network that regularly shows professional poker, rock/paper/scissors tournaments and Stump the Schwab, Beg, Borrow & Deal only hung around for two inglorious seasons. Basically, the contestants would travel around America trying to complete sports-related tasks (for example, throwing out the first pitch at a Minor League Baseball game) by begging, borrowing, and dealing. I chose the title because I'll probably wind up using these skills
a lot during my travels.

Getting Started

It wasn't easy for me to start this site.

First off, I tend to agree with Maddox about blogs--99% of them are steaming lumps of verbal diarrhea coming from underappreciated narcissists. If you have any doubt about that last statement, I challenge you to read the Claremont Conservative for more than 5 minutes and disagree. The only blogs worth reading are written by people who would be famous without blogging, people like Mark Cuban, Andrew Sullivan, or the Freakonomics guys.

Second, I'm a slow writer. I tend to craft my papers over a long period of time rather than pump out page after page. I like to think a lot before, during, and after writing about anything. I subscribe to the Ernest Hemingway school of writing--if you can say something in 5 words, why use 50?

Basically, all of my personal and authorial tendencies run counter to what blogging is about--namely, pumping out as much information as you can, as quickly as possible. But I'm starting this blog anyway, for the simple reason that I want to keep in touch with everyone while I travel around the world for the next 9 months.

Starting in February, I'm going to Amman, Jordan to study abroad for spring semester. Then I'm going on a three-week trip across Europe with Dan Holleb, Zack Mirman, and Sam Littleton. We're going to watch World Cup games with local fans in England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and Spain. Finally, at the end of summer I'll be making a two-week road trip across the beautiful United States of America (participants TBA). This blog is the easiest way for me to share all of the pictures, stories, and perspectives I'll collect.

Right now I'm sitting in a stripped-down dorm room waiting for my red-eye flight to Boston. My suitcases are packed and my bookshelves are empty. Pretty soon, I'll be standing in a pile of snow. I feel like I'm in the last strip of Calvin and Hobbes:

Nine months is the longest time I've had off from school since before kindergarten, and I couldn't be more ready for it.