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AD_e's Illustrated FML

Hi gang ! It's Friday once more and time for us to go on a magical mystery tour around the brain of yet another illustrator. This week, things have happened around the world that were so depressing, I don't even want to think about them. Denial is the key to a happy life. However, sometimes, life hands you things that you just can't brush under the carpet. That's sort of the theme of this week's illustrated FML, so let's get straight down to the nitty-gritty and take a look. 

AD_e'S ILLUSTRATED FML

"The nickname AD_e needs to be with the capital letters like that and the underscore, otherwise it hurts my eyes."

Self-portrait AD_e by Adeline

 


AD_e is short for Adeline. That's her nickname, her persona and it appears that you shouldn't write it any other way. She comes all the way from Belgium, like so many other talented artists.

Her info:
Age: 22
Location: Charleroi, Belgium
Blog: AD_e's blog
Her illustrated FML: The one about the raffle and the duck


She's a student. She's even a graphics design student, and a "full time amateur sketch artist". She lives in Charleroi, "you know, the city that's known as the Brooklyn of Belgium, haha. My city is cool, my city is pretty despite what the rumors say." I hadn't heard any rumors about Charleroi, but now I'm going to be careful if ever I go there because it seems like you could easily get knifed there. She says she loves doing what she does, that drawing is "a passion that helps me escape this crazy world, to lose myself in my thoughts, to... to... I digress." She doesn't want for much in life: "I've got a cat, a great apartment, my XBox360 and Sting, the sword from the Lord of the Rings... so I don't think I need much else. Come to think of it... if I could have a light saber, that would be fantastic!" I meant realistic things, but people say that you have to demand the impossible.

So, how about projects? Anything current going on? "It's still top secret so it shouldn't be spread around too much but I'll let you in on it anyway: I'm working on my second home-made comic book (drawn, printed and sold by me)." As for projects, she's got loads bouncing around her head. Her dream is to publish a real comic book, "properly made and everything, in bookshops. Making illustrations for a children's book would be really cool. As would making a colouring book be. They're on my list of things to do in my life. As well as being published on FML and touching an iceberg, dressed as a Jedi, while riding a shark who is wearing a sombrero..." OK, well, I can just do the "being published on FML" part, I'm not qualified to supply the rest.
 

She has studied. A lot. "After finishing secondary education, I did media and communication studies, and got a journalism degree. Now, I've thrown myself into graphic design studies. According to my family, I'm addicted to education. Sometimes, I can hear them say, "40 years old and still a student" ha ha." So, scared of facing the real world, huh? I can understand that. It's an awful world out there.

She was inspired by school. "During my adolescence… Drawing in the margins of my notebooks and on the school benches (yes, I know, bad girl) helped a lot. And then the Internet turned up along with comic book blogs. Every day, I would take a look at my favourite blogs (including Paka, Sanaa K, Diglee, Yap and many more). And then one day, I said to myself, "Why not me?"

Her tastes, are they more sort of doom metal, or disco-punk? "I like anything which is science-fiction, from superheroes to movies where there's great big action scenes and bad jokes. One of the last movies I saw in an actual movie theatre was "X-Men : Days of Future Past" and I really loved it. The Quicksilver character is one of my favourite comic book characters (along with Flash). As for TV shows, there's the amazing Game of Thrones, Sherlock and Doctor Who which are my favourites. I never get bored of them. I'm currently re-watching all the Doctor Who episodes before the new season begins. I'm a fan of the "geek" world, even if I don't like the way the word is used generally. I collect loads of goodies. Anything like figurines, comic books, furry toys, mouse mats, clothes, swords, jewelry, etc. from movies and TV shows. I think my apartment could become a museum. Oh and let me reveal my secret. I'm a fan and I'm totally addicted to the songs that you hear in advertisements on TV. I know practically all of them, from car advertisements to shower gel advertisements, all the way to the ones hawking cat food. I don't stop at singing them when they come on, I look up who wrote them, if they've made other music, etc. And to tell you the truth, it's allowed me to discover really good new artists!" I feel the opposite sometimes, when I hear a song I used to love being used to sell something. It sort of ruins the song for me. 

How about one of your own personal FMLs? "Today, I'm on holiday at my dad's place, and there's no washing machine. I set off for the local laundromat, dirty washing under my arm. I miss my step on the road and all my clothes end up on the ground. The traffic was held up because of me stuck in the middle trying to pick everything up, and some pervert was staring at my panties. FML"

That's it for this week.  Thanks AD_e for taking part, it was cool having you on board. If everything has gone to plan, while you're reading this, I'm on holiday down by the ocean in the south of France. That's if everything went smoothly, but being FML staff, it probably didn't. So it's fitting that I should leave you with a typically oceanic-orientated song, because I'm in the mood for surfing. Not that I can surf though, I have no sense of balance whatsoever. Next week we'll be welcoming a Peruvian artist who only eats green beans, or a she-devil illustrator who paints dead singers using her hair and menstrual blood. It'll be a surprise then, because for now I have no idea who's doing what. I'm already on holiday in my mind, because I haven't had any days off since 1987. You have to work hard in life, if you want to end up falling into the trajectory of an oncoming bus and splat, game over. Until next time, be excellent to each other and may the ghost of Ian Curtis bring you luck. All summer long. 

What about you? Think you've got talent and want to contribute to the illustrated FML? Send us an email to contact@fmylife.com but only send us your blog's address and a few samples of your work. No need to create an illustrated FML straight away.

#1466 - Illustrated FML - On 08/18/2014 at 8:25am by Alan - 12 comments

FML on vacation #2: In slow-moving hell

It was once a dream, now it’s come true. We’re at the place that was allocated months ago for preprogrammed, enforced holiday fun time. We’ve put on some cargo shorts, slipped on some of those flip-flops that hurt your toes after a few yards, and we’re all pretending to be happy. What d’you mean, “pretending”, Mr Miserable? OK, not everyone is pretending, there are a few exceptions. Rich people who can afford decent holidays, but then again, not even money can buy happiness. It can help, though. The only people who are close to some sort of happiness are the ones like me who anticipate boredom and who bring along a suitcase stuffed with horse tranquillisers, and mainly see life through a narcotic haze. The rest are in denial. Going through all the trouble of travelling across the country or the globe, spending a small fortune in the process, just to end up in a different place, albeit a pretty one, but with the same neurosis and gastric irritations is just bizarre. “Who really benefits from all this?”, he said in a serious TV news reporter’s voice.



(The campsite's quality may differ from what was promised on the brochure)


Travelling isn't the hardest part, you also have to endure the time served on site. Never ending days that seemed ages away last February when you were booking them on the Internet, a credit card in your trembling hand after having glimpsed at the misleading photos on the travel agent's website. But now you've arrived. And it's crap. It smells of rotting seaweed. The toilets and showers are a long way away, and hygiene levels are barely above truck stop quality. The camp site neighbours have small, noisy children and they also seem to have some sort of trumpet sticking out of their tent. Lord knows what sort of sound it makes... Oh, now they're playing it. Great. Just great. Sounds like a dying moose. By now, you're glad you packed that box of rosé wine into the fridge and are now contemplating death by barbecue. 

Today, my boyfriend and I are on camping vacation. On my way out of the tent, I stepped in a pile of shit. When I told him, he said, "Oh, I couldn't make it to the bathroom last night." The bathroom was a minute walk from our tent. FML

Whether you vacation at the beach, in the mountains or if you just want to leave society behind and go and meditate in a monastery in the middle of nowhere, you have to choose wisely when picking an unknown destination. Many people go back to the same place to vacation, year after year, and it's a bit of a shame. It's understandable, though, it's like going to McDonald's, you know what's going to be on the menu, and what it's going to taste like. It's the easy solution, a quiet vacation in a familiar place. But you might as well go on vacation in your own garden, pitch a tent in your living room and take dumps in your bathtub. It's better to take calculated risks, and to continue with the bad McDonald's analogy, I mean something more exotic than having a Quarterpounder instead or your usual Big Mac. I mean going somewhere totally different. Like a Burger King. In space. It's the only way to disconnect your overworked brain from day-to-day life and get finally get the feeling that time has stood still. Otherwise, when you come home, you'll still be in the same pathetic state as when you left, and people will annoy you by saying stuff like, "What? You went back to that same place you've been to for the last 10 years? Why? Are you my grandad?" 

Today, my friend and I went for a late night walk along the beach. We decided to sit down on a log. It was a dead seal. FML



(Summer at the beach, I can't wait)

Being on vacation is about getting some rest, but you can also find time for your hobbies. Yes, well, while on vacation, hobbies are probably always the same: throwing a Frisbee about, cheap racket-and-ball things, kites and being a bit of an alcoholic. When you're at home, you'd never dream of entertaining yourself by throwing a Frisbee around your house, due to it being quite a tedious pastime. But once you reach the beach, it's like your standards start to drop. I like to do Sudoku on vacation. Not actually finish them properly, just fill in the boxes randomly. It's not like anyone is actually going to check what I've put in the boxes, even if I go up to people and say, "Look, I've finished the whole book". I tested this theory once at night, in the pouring rain, and it's true, no one wants to look at my Sudoku. As for being a budding alcoholic while on vacation, I don't mean like an idiot on Spring Break, chugging down beers through a plastic pipe, beers with such a low alcohol content that I don't understand the point of their existence, I mean bottles of rosé wine in a cooler that you break out around 5pm, sitting on the beach. This sort of behaviour seems normal when you're on vacation. If you try breaking out a bottle of rosé wine on a subway at 5pm, people just think you're a homeless dude with very low self-esteem. It's just not fair. Double standards.


(Vacationing in the countryside, as seen here in Ireland, can be full of surprises)

Some people spend their summers in the mountains or the countryside. They don't like the beach. They're "different". They like to commune with nature, and by that I mean insects, mosquitoes and snakes. We must respect these people. A cabin in the woods can be a very nice place to be. Somewhere to hang out, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Get together with a bunch of friends, around a big oak table and drink chamomile tea and talk about the deconstruction of the soul in modern Russian cinema while the kids play in a paddling pool. Sounds like heaven. Or, to put it another way, I never get invited to this sort of getaway because I think I'd probably turn into a fat, angry owl with spinning head if I ever got trapped in anything like it.

Today, I arrived at the beach for a week's vacation. I walk on the beach only to find they are "rebuilding" it. They have heavy machinery all over the place, they work 24/7, and this only happens every 15 years. Glad I picked this week. FML


(The only elections that really mean anything anymore)

Near the beach, there's a flyposter on the supermarket door that says that there's an election tomorrow to determine who the cutest guy in the campsite is. Mister Camping will be proclaimed at 9pm. Oh goody, that's what was needed, some cultural relaxation. If that doesn't tempt you, there's the night market to stroll around, with a Nutella-covered waffle. All along the sea front, you may be be tempted to buy a cheap plastic toy for a large lump of money, or even get a terrible painting of a clown made in a sweat shop. The atmosphere will be electric; the neon lights burning up the same electrical current that would be required to power a small village. A fight will probably break out down by the fun fair, near the go karts, between either two groups of teenagers who've had too many vodka and Red Bull shots and who are now trying to impress some spotty girls from Luxembourg, or between two soccer moms squabbling like seagulls over one parking space near the ice cream van while their gormless husbands and 26 bored kids look on. The empty car park several hundred yards up the road is clearly visible to all, of course. This is what vacations are all about, the atmosphere. I love it. People think I'm nuts when I mention it, but it's true. I've already heard "Last Christmas" by Wham come blaring out of a beach sound system on a hot August day, and it was so out of place, it was just perfect, like wearing a Hawaiian shirt to a baptism. You've got to embrace your inner love for trashy stuff to be able to enjoy your vacation. Otherwise, you'll spend all your time chasing perfection, end up depressed and sucking on horse tranquilliser-flavoured ice-cream cones. 

Today, at the beach, I noticed a plastic bag in the water. I wanted to do something good for a change, help protect the environment and get it out. It wasn't a bag; it was a jellyfish. FML

Take this as some sort of warning: By trying to do the right thing all the time, more often than not you end up coved in jellyfish. That'll be my crap saying of the day. Let things happen, go with the flow and have fun. Take care.

#1465 - Ramblings - On 08/13/2014 at 5:05am by Alan - 17 comments

Mélie's Illustrated FML

Whatever happened to that girl who sang about Fridays? Here at FML, on Friday, we usually release our weekly illustrated FML. This week, so many things happened, I couldn't begin to describe them. No really, I couldn't. Oh, go on then, maybe a bit. Today for example, it's apparently International Cat Day. As if the feline invaders needed a special day to be all about them. They've already got our chairs, our beds and our laps. One day, cats will rule the world, but not today, there's a bit of tin foil trapped behind the couch. Anyway, this week we're not going to be splitting hairs, let's get right on with it. Booyakasha. 

MÉLIE'S ILLUSTRATED FML

"If you see a girl in public transportation carrying a whole lot of stuff, a cat box, messed-up hair, an ugly sweater on, chances are that it's me."

Self-portrait Mélie by Mélanie

 


Mélie is her nickname, and illustrating is her game. She explained to me the origins of her full moniker, which is Mélie Bacanarie, but it's so complicated that I'm not even sure I can explain it back to you off the top of my head. Oh yes, it's a contraction of her different family names, due to her having several of the things. But I won't give out her real name, because of attorney-client privilege. Or something. I should do, because she chose to illustrate an FML about haircuts and I haven't had hair on my head since the mid-'90s.

Her info:
Age: 23 
LocationMontpellier/Yvelines/Paris 
Blog: A Facebook page full of her illustrations
Her illustrated FML: The one about hair war


No blog. Odd for an illustrator, I know. I think it's the first time I've encountered an illustrator who didn't have one. She explains it so: "Unfortunately, for the moment I've only got a Facebook page, I'm trying to set up a blog, this summer. Trying is the key word, I'm not managing to do it very well. In the meantime, I use my Facebook page as a blog, putting illustrations on it and updating it every monday." And what a good page it is too, so go check it out, because it's quite interesting.

So, what does she do?  "Globally, not a lot. I'm a freelance illustrator, so I'm used to saying that I'm 'always on holiday'. Which isn't strictly true; let's just say that when someone orders an illustration, I don't have a timetable, when an order comes along or a conference is approaching, holidays and weekends no longer exist. In those moments, I lose all notion of time. Once, I was so out of it that I asked people on Facebook what day it was. To simplify my answer, I'll say that 'I make doodles when asked'." She says that she lacks consistency, "I love the the rough, sketched part, creating a gag, a story, all the creative part of the process. Afterwards, when I have to fiddle about with the details, ink, make it look professional... Let's just say I lack willpower most of the time. I've always been like that, very enthusiastic in the beginning, but not so much towards the end." I think there's a psychological term for that sort of behaviour. I can't remember right now due to dehydration and a lack of vitamin C because I ran into my old friend Jack Daniel's last night, so my brain is not firing on all cylinders, but I think it's something to do with a fear of actually finishing something you've already started. I've got the same problem.  

Does she have projects, or is she waiting for things to just pop out of nowhere? She's got loads! "I'm drawing several projects, too many you could say… At the moment I'm trying to draw comics called 5irth, r95irth and Damned. I've also got two children's projects on the go, and something to send to museums. This year, I worked on The Wanted Mag, whose page is on Facebook and on manfah.fr. It's a collective of comic book authors, all stuck between three genres: Mangas, Franco-Belgian and comics. So, with a few friends, we set up a magazine that comes out every six months and which publishes long, hybrid stories. We're inspired by journalistic novels and Japanese magazines." For someone who reckons she lacks consistency, she's certainly prolific. 

As for inspiration and influences, Mélie is all over the place. She's very influenced by Japanese writers: "If I really must name names, it would mostly be writers that inspired/motivated me. And unfortunately, there are a lot more Mangaku than Franco-Belgians or comic book writers." She cites people like Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist), Jun Mochizuki (Pandora Hearts), Daisuke Moriyama (Chrono Crusade), Shinobu Othaka (Magi) and Miyazaki… People I've never really heard of due to me being an ignoramus when it comes to Mangas, but by whom I'm now intrigued. 

Her perfect day? "Sleeping in, finishing writing a chapter, reading a good book, eating some chocolate and pancakes and ending the evening with a video game or a good movie. All this from my bed, with my cat on my knees and my friends and family talking to me via Skype. But days are never long enough to do all of that." We can try. Tomorrow is Saturday, I'm going to give it a shot. The 'sleeping in' thing at least. Mélie agrees. "I love sleeping! A lot, a lot, a lot. I love chocolate too, and it's the only foodstuff for which I'll enjoy the 'mandatory' side of mealtimes. Other than that, my passions are pretty logical. I love drawing, inventing stories and writing scripts. I'm on the Internet too often, talking about my projects, reading stories by young authors on forums. I'm not good enough with computers to be called a geek, but I like video games, mainly RPG." 

How about your own FML? "I think my most recent FML happened in the Paris underground metro. I was daydreaming with my headphones on, and I didn't hear the signal indicating the doors were about to close. There was a Me versus the Automatic Doors situation, and even though I tried running as fast as I could, they slapped me backwards. I got up, stunned, while the doors were closing again. I'm stubborn and I WANTED that train. Not a different one, not the next one! It was between it and me. I got up and ran towards it again. People seem to take pity on me and grabbed hold of the door so that I could get in. I stumbled in, saw a seat… and sat down, basking in the glow of victory. Then I almost passed out. The other passengers must've hated me!" Oh, so YOU were that annoying girl the other day, I remember you... 

There, that'll do for this week. Mélie told me a whole bunch of other stuff, but I can't repeat everything on here, these blog posts are long and rambling enough as it is. So, don't hesitate to check out her Facebook page and contact her to ask her questions about stuff, she's quite fascinating (in a good way). I'm going to go back onto the couch and watch last night's Big Brother UK (Ashleigh FTW) because right now I feel like I'm floating in space, a feeling very well represented by this wonderful track by Oneohtrix Point Never. Thanks to Mélie for her illustration and enthusiasm, which is quite rare these days. Next week, no illustrated FML, it'll be part 2 of the "Summer on FML" blog. Until then, be excellent to each other, and may the strength of Angus Young go with you, whether you're on vacation or not. 

What about you? Think you've got talent and want to contribute to the illustrated FML? Send us an email to contact@fmylife.com but only send us your blog's address and a few samples of your work. No need to create an illustrated FML straight away.

#1464 - Illustrated FML - On 08/07/2014 at 6:02am by Alan - 9 comments

Freaks's Illustrated FML

What's going on? Something weird is going on. I can feel it in my bones. Can't you? People are acting weird, as if they're short-fused all of a sudden. There's definitely something afoot. Rumours abound that One Direction are at the tipping point where they're too old to be teen-idols and ticket sales are dwindling. The days are getting shorter. The time it takes me to down a pint of Belgian lager is even shorter than before. Everything is shrinking. It's like the whole world has been standing with its knob in a cold lake. And funnily enough, this week's illustrated FML is about short people, so let's check it out before I have to think about any more shortness-related stuff.

FREAKS'S ILLUSTRATED FML

"I have anatidaephobia. I'm terrorised by the idea that somewhere, one way or another, a duck is watching me."

Self portrait Freaks by Lola

This week, we're being joined by Freaks. Not actual freaks, unless you count that guy who keeps posting nasty comments but sends me weird PMs about wanting to show me his love pump. Freaks is also known as Lola. Not that it's got anything to do with the price of eggs but she's a female girl of the womanly kind, yet another one in this column-slash-blog, which is a good thing because it's pissed off all the machos and sexist twits. You can find Freaks pretty much everywhere: on Facebook, her blog, on deviantart, and probably down her local pub, but I don't know which one and I didn't ask.

What are her details then ?
Age : 17
Location : "Lost in Normandy, France, in between a cow and an apple tree." 
Blog : The life of a blog punk
Her illustrated FML : The one about the short girl.


Blog Punk. I have to explain that one. In France, there's a certain category of people (that you'll probably find all over the world), the punk guys who hang around on the streets dressed like 1978 never ended and who always have 143 dogs with them. In France they're called "Punk à Chien", which means "Dog Punk". I myself am a Cat Punk, because I have two cats that I spend hours brushing while listening to Black Flag, and... There, I said too much already. Freaks shared her life with her rat called Cunnilingus ("it's not perverted, it's an homage to Mathias Malzieu!"), her cat Isis, her domesticated demon Skrät "who loves apple juice", and "my best friends, a mohawked bear and French-Canadian My Little Pony fan. And I love playpusses." Sounds like a nice home life, but I'm not really sure what a 'domesticated demon' is, and I'm not sure I really want to find out.

She spends most of her life drawing. "To tell you the truth, I've never really thought about it. I just feel the need to draw, that's the way it is, I have stories to tell. If people like what I do, great, otherwise, doesn't matter. And it allows me to mock people without getting caught, too." That's a bit how I see writing some of these articles. But I'm never nasty. Sometimes, someone will say, "What does it all mean, what you wrote?" In that sort of case, I do the head-tilt, smile, get up and go get a Prozac-flavoured sandwich. Or I bash my head against a car, depending on my intake of booze. Billy Idol used to sing, "Face to face and back to back, you see and feel my sex attack." That has nothing to with anything, but I needed a transition.

Lola, sorry, Freaks what do you need ? "Publishers to support my projects. A kneaded eraser. A better tablet. More time to doodle. And some talent, it can be useful." Oh come on, don't talk out yo' ass. Go check out her DeviantArt page to she if she's bluffing or if she's unaware of her talent. 

Talent or not, what about your projects ? "I'm working on two comic books which should appear some time in 2015, at least as webcomics and maybe on paper as limited releases. Other than that, I'm praticing 2D animation, and continuing my blog and little strips." She does all this from home, "because I have everything I need, but I also like to settle down outside a café and doodle for a bit." That's what's so good about these sorts of jobs, the portability aspect. 

My inspiration comes from buns of steel workout sessions and jokes found on popsicle sticks. And yourself?  "Manu Larcenet, Alexis Koleszar and Maliki, to name a few. I like Mirion Malle a lot, even if I don't always like the drawings, the comics are always well-written and send an interesting message." A lot of illustrators seem to mention Manu Larcenet so I guess he needs checking out! 

In the middle of the interview, she makes a startling revelation. "I ride ponies! For real, for six years now. And besides drawing, I loooove movies, even if I don't get much chance to go to movie theatres." I stopped listening after, "I ride ponies". Any other vices to declare? "As many people do, I procrastinate a lot... No, I will not mention the three litres of coffee that I chuck down my guts every day." Oh, don't worry about that, most of the world turns on coffee and coffee fumes. 

Freaks is currently into stuff that is totally different to mine. "In comic books, I've fallen head over heels for 'Punk Rock Jesus' by Sean Murphy, a real gem. I also like the 'Blast' series by Manu Larcenet, which has just ended. As for the movies, I love the film 'Freaks' (which is where I get my moniker from!). And I LOVE 'The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart', whether it's the book, the CD or the movie." I'm curious about her selection, because I'd never heard of a few. My favourite things at the moment are... Nah, I've already talked too much about myself as it is. 

To end the show, how about your own FML ? "Today, and as always, I'm short. My best friend, as usual, calls me a midget. I defend myself by saying, 'I'm not a midget, I'm a little person.' He replies, 'Tyrion Lannister is a little person. You're a midget.' FML" Hey, well done, it fits in nicely with this week's theme. 

OK, that's it for this week. Thanks Freaks/Lola for taking part. I'm going to bail out pretty quickly this time, and leave you with a summery punk-era song by The Undertones, for all those people who are having shitty weather. See you next week for some more of the same but not exactly. Be excellent to each other.

What about you? Think you've got talent and want to contribute to the illustrated FML? Send us an email to contact@fmylife.com but only send us your blog's address and a few samples of your work. No need to create an illustrated FML straight away.

 

#1463 - Illustrated FML - On 08/01/2014 at 9:54am by Alan - 14 comments

FML on vacation #1: Getting there

A lot of people will spout off the tired old cliché that the destination isn't as important as the journey itself. Well, what if you're on your way to the Playboy Mansion then? Anywayyy, has everyone jam-packed their suitcase? Is your mother-in-law in her carry-case? Is the suntan lotion jammed into the sunglasses case? Did you get to print out the train tickets after realising that the printer needed a new ink cartridge right at the last minute? Good, then we're all set to leave our daily troubles and strife behind and head off to confront the usual bullcrap that goes along with going on holiday (or vacation, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods).



(Things were getting intense at Grand Central Station this morning)

Every summer, millions of people rush towards airport gates, motorway tollbooths and trains with broken-down airconditioning systems to escape everyday life, in search of a beach, a bit of ocean, a house in the countryside or just to bungee jump over Death Valley. Anything that will allow them to forget life back home. Here at FML, we get to watch each step of your vacation, from departure to the eventual sad return home, through the stories you send in along the way. This summer, instead of the usual Best of the Worst (I know, some of you have been requesting it, it'll be back, don't worry), I'm going to do a sort of compilation of what's great (and not so great) about vacationing, step by step. I'll start with the first part: Getting there, wherever "there" may be.

Today, I was stuck at the airport overnight waiting for my flight for about 5 hours. I then went and looked at the departures board. It said that my flight had already departed. FML


Some people manage to get things right. Many strive for excellence, and can organise everything from A to Z, nothing goes wrong, no trouble with cancellations, packing, kids throwing up in cars, or pets chewing their way through their carry-cases on the train at all. Nothing is outside the allotted guidelines, it's all clean and efficient and their holidays run with military efficiency. These people are called psychopaths. Or they travel alone. For the rest of us, taking a vacation is somewhat less relaxing than taking a ride on a high-speed rollercoaster in a fairground run by alcoholic lunatics. We'd like to believe that it's going to be fantastic, that we're going to chill out to the max, that when we eventually return home we'll be full of beans and our life force will be all Omega and Alpha Nebula or whatever the New Age hippies say, because you've been down in the dumps for a while now, maaaan. The thing is, though, a vacation is just a way of moving your personal issues from a point A to a point B. It's still you, but in another location. Just because you're in a straw hat on a beach somewhere doesn't make you less you. You've still got that voice in your head telling you to shove those cashew nuts up your nose for no reason, or you still think you're hearing God telling you to kill Fred Flintstone. But that's a subject for another article. 

Today, while traveling with my cat, I had a mini-freakout when I realized that I left his favorite toy in the hotel room. I'm a 30-year-old man. FML


There's the usual public transportation you can rely on to get you where you want to go, but a lot of people prefer to travel by car. "It's cheaper" they say. It probably is, especially if you pile 8 people into a clapped-out '78 Ford Escort, when comparing it to say, a ticket on Concorde, which doesn't even exist anymore. But... cars are expensive to buy for a start. Gasoline is expensive, especially since the 4-year-old who decides on gas prices has pushed the setting up to "High". And travelling by car is a pain in the hole anyway; you have to stop every 5 miles because your annoying little brother wants to pee on something for the 15th time, your mother wants some more Sudoku magazines and dad wants another beer because it helps him concentrate when he's behind the wheel. 

Today, I traveled by plane for the first time. Once in the air, I was absolutely terrorized by the whole experience. Luckily, they had free booze on board, so I necked some to steady my nerves. Unfortunately, the vodka mixed with air turbulence made me spurt some vomit into my lap. FML


When they reach a certain age, kids start going on vacation without their parents, and thank Xenu for that. It's good news for the teenagers as much as their parents. The kids go off camping with their friends, smoke weak joints and go off to sleep and blow chunks into their sleeping bags at 9 pm, while their parents go off and rent houses in the countryside with their college buddies to smoke super-strong doobies and pass out, due to the fact that weed is way more potent than in 1972, while listening to Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. However, for teenagers to get to that level of trust is quite a struggle, due to the fact that most parents don't trust them enough to let them go off with their friends without supervision (especially with the weird ginger kid with the ninja stars collection). To get to that stage, kids will be required to show to their parents that they're mature enough to handle it. So you, yes, you, kid A or whatever your name is, learn to cook something, to darn a sock, make a fire out of bits of wood, drive a combine-harvester and grow a beard. Then maybe people will trust you to go out on your own, and maybe let you become Amish as well.

Today, I was standing at airport security. One of the bag inspectors asked me to remove my travel pouch, pointing to the lump under my shirt. I didn't know how to tell him that it was just one of my fat rolls. FML


Before you leave, don't forget to secure your house and get it protected by Navy SEALS, just so you can give your paranoia one last spin before relaxing on your cheap holiday in other people's misery (thanks Johnny). Oh, and get your pets looked after. Or better still, take them with you. Cats love the beach and are great at surfing. Dogs like to bark at waves and pee on sunbathers. Some people just dump their pets by the side of the road before leaving for a vacation. There's a name for people like this, but I'm too much of a gentleman to write it down (hint: they're total shitcannons). Just thinking about it makes me tense. I'm going to have some orange juice to calm down. 


(A driver finally realises that using his horn in a traffic jam has no effect)

Watch out for people who are in a hurry, whether in airports, train stations, or in traffic. People are in a rush to get to their holiday destination, but won't be in the "hey, I'm relaxed, it's cool maaaan" mood until they've actually reached the designated area where the brochure said that they would feel relaxed. Before that precise moment, it's a free-for-all. Don't be surprised to find someone sitting in your window seat in the plane. Don't let these people get away with it. There's a certain type of person that specialises in doing this sort of thing, who'll try and brush it off with, "Oh, am I in the wrong seat? Do you mind exchanging? It would be a shame to disturb everyone else, my seat is the aisle seat over there." Say no firmly without breaking eye-contact. They know very well they're in the wrong seat, they've done this before. They've come prepared. These people are pros. This is how wars start. It's because of people like this that measles are back. Well, them and the idiots who won't vaccinate their kids because they think they know science better than people who actually know science. Don't back down. Claim your seat. Fight the power.

Travelling should ultimately be a moment of quiet reflection. You should be able to demand it, but also spread it. Like a nice new fun STD. Your vacation should start right the moment you leave your workplace, your college, your high-school; it's the last day you have to stare at the people you share the drudgery of everyday life. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, some shades and smile. Even if it's night time and it's pouring with rain. Of course, the thought of having to sit in a crowded train, wait in line at a freeway toll or gasp for air in a fart-infested airplane in few hours time is sort of daunting. But it's all for a good cause. At the end of the journey there will be... what? You can never really know. The trouble with leaving town for a vacation is that we hope that at the other end the grass will be greener (chill out mum, I mean metaphorical grass, put your bong away), but wherever you go, you still take your own emotional baggage with you. That's why when I go on holiday, I always take a lot of LSD with me. 

Today, I went to the airport to start the amazing 3 week vacation in Costa Rica that I've been saving for and planning for more than a year. They wouldn't let me on the plane because my passport expires in less than 6 months. FML


Next time, I'll be looking at whether it's really a good idea to go anywhere on holiday at all, and that maybe we should all stay at home with loads of cans of soup and batteries for the television's remote control. And Beach Boys albums. And for those of you who can't go on holiday due to lack of funds or other reasons, try to avoid being bitter when your annoying friends post pictures of their feet on the beach or next to swimming pools on Facebook or wherever. I say that, but I genuinely posted this as a comment once: 


(Anger is never the correct response, but it helps)

Remember, the journey is not as important as the destination. Having a comfy window seat is just as important.

#1462 - Ramblings - On 07/22/2014 at 8:31am by Alan - 26 comments


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