Val chooses figs.

Choosing Figs

Choosing Figs - A Travel and Life List Blog.

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I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


Val chooses figs.
(This isn’t a fig, but you get the idea.)

For some time now I’ve wanted to migrate my website to a new name. I registered this site, under my full(ish) name, back in 2003, in my last month of college. I’d taken a web design class my final semester (in the rhetoric department, no less) and wanted to move the table-based creation to somewhere more permanent than telnet (yes, I said telnet).

Back then my website was just a few static pages with my non-existant portfolio and a few pictures. Nothing all that exciting.

In 2006, two redesigns later, I added a blog. Partly because it was the only way I could think of to get people to come back to my website. Partly because a boy I loved told me I needed to get a life (he was right) and I wanted to prove to him that I had one (I didn’t).

When I first registered my site I used my own name because I didn’t really think to use anything else. Blogs weren’t really a huge thing back then and it didn’t occur to me to think of something different, something catchy.

Besides, I was going to be a famous writer. Someday, people would know me by name.

Over the years, though, as my blog became more the source of my writing, my storytelling, than anywhere else, I felt anxious to think of something new. People didn’t know what to use to link to this space. People didn’t know what to call this space. It was never all that important. Rarely do people link to this space or call this space anything. But I still was itching for a change. I wanted something to call it.

In the last few years I’ve registered numerous domains. Ideas for titles would come to me on a whim, and I’d rush to my computer and plop down $10 to own another slice of digital real estate.

But after a few days or so I would never be so sure.

I wanted something I could stick with, that wasn’t just random. Something that would always make sense. To me. To everyone. Something that incorporated everything this blog was about.

The problem was, I was never really sure what this blog was about. I mean, it’s about me. It’s about my life. It’s about who I hoped would win American Idol, what I ate for breakfast, where I’ve gone, who I’ve slept with. Everything.

But, maybe, it has also become about something more. I could just never really pinpoint what that was.

I knew that I didn’t want to be locked into this being a travel blog because this has never been a travel blog. (Case in point: I didn’t even have plans to get a passport when I started writing here.) Sure, I have been traveling for a year and a half. Sure, I plan to travel for as long as I possibly can. But I don’t plan to always travel. Some day I hope to get married and I can guarantee that for a period of time this will be a wedding blog. Some day I hope to have an exposed-brick filled loft and this will be a home design blog. Some day I will get a kitten or a puppy and it surely will be filled with photos of said kitten or puppy. Maybe some day it will even be a parenting blog (but please do not hold your breath for that one).

It was only about two months ago that everything started to click. I’d been thinking about a tattoo I want to get, a fig tree on my upper arm, that stems from a quote out of my favorite novel, The Bell Jar. Sure, the novel details a young writer’s plummet into depression. Sure, the author killed herself soon after it went to print. But I still relate to that piece of writing more than anything I’ve ever read.

For a while I was gung ho with the idea of tattooing the phrase “neurotic as hell,” another quote from the book, on my wrist. But I’m really not a huge fan, for me, of word tattoos. But then I recalled the quote, above, about fig trees. And I thought, this was my life. I spent so much time not sure of what I wanted out of life, unable to choose, that I did nothing. I didn’t travel. I didn’t date. I didn’t move out. I didn’t pursue new careers.


I was living life in a complete state of limbo.

And then, when I turned 30, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Europe.

I started choosing figs.

I’d been thinking about getting that tattoo for a while now as it pretty much symbolizes everything my life had been and everything I am striving for it to be now. And, when I have extra money again, I still plan to get it. But a few weeks before I left for Guatemala it occurred to me that that is exactly what my blog is about: figs. That the reasons I want that image permanently on my arm are the exact same reasons I pour my life onto these digital pages. No matter what I am doing, whether it be traveling, buying a house, dating, marrying, rearing puppies, I am finally choosing my figs, and, obviously, blogging every minute detail of it.

And so, I chose another fig, plopped down another $10, and started to re-design.

There won’t be much difference in content around here. I will continue to write about travel when I’m traveling. Home life when I’m home. What I ate for breakfast. What couch I’m currently coveting. I will continue to write about anything and everything I so desire.

I just finally have something to call it all.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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