Weekend Assignment #251: Fantasy Sabbatical

This is my very first time as “guest professor” for the “Weekend Assignment” at Outpost Mâvarin, but it may not be my last…that’s up to Karen, though, and depends on how many of my other topic suggestions she decides to use.

Weekend Assignment #251: You have a six-month paid sabbatical, and you can spend it anywhere you like EXCEPT on a beach drinking margaritas. Where do you go, and what do you do while you’re there?

Extra Credit: In real life, have you ever gone anywhere enjoyable at an employer’s expense?

Extra credit first, since I’m backwards like that and it’s a short-answer question – no. I’ve never been in a job that’s required me to travel, even for training. I’ve usually been the one who holds down the fort while someone else travels for work.

In Karen’s own response, she defined the “sabbatical” literally – a learning holiday authorized and paid for by one’s employer. I’m taking a looser interpretation; basically, all of my expenses are paid for six months, perhaps by a windfall or mystery benefactor, and I just have to spend the time constructively. You would think that since I came up with this question, I might have had a response in mind…but again, no.

To begin with, I think I would opt for a major change of scenery, and spend my six months’ leave in the opposite corner of the country – New England. I lived in Connecticut until I was twelve, but have barely been back there since my family moved south. However, my home base for the period would be my favorite East Coast city, Boston (don’t tell that to my birthplace, New York, though). The project I have in mind could actually be done at home, but since one point of a sabbatical is getting away from everyday distractions, a temporary relocation really helps. (Since my family doesn’t count as a “everyday distraction” and we’ve still got two school-aged children, clearly this scenario would be at least ten years away, and the windfall has to cover both my husband and me.)

Before I left town, I would ship several boxes of books to my temporary home, because one of the purposes for my sabbatical would be to liberate as many books as possible from TBR Purgatory, and I know that without the inconvenience of having to spend the better part of my daylight hours at work, I can read at a pretty good pace. As I finished each book, I would take it somewhere – perhaps in the city, perhaps further away, since one of the beauties of New England is the relatively short travel time between towns and even states – and leave it for someone else to find and read it; it would be like a six-month BookCrossing tour. My laptop would come too, because I’d review each book I read (as I normally do anyway), and the review would include an account of my visit to the place where the book was left, complete with pictures. I would also set myself a rule – which I would try to adhere to – regarding visiting bookstores and acquiring new books; none for the first three weeks, and none could come back home with me. The goal would be to read and reduce my overflowing library.

This would be a terrific opportunity to indulge and develop two of my favorite things, reading and writing, as well as another favorite, travel and exploration. There would have to be structure and discipline – I would be reading and writing daily – and yet I think it would be a lot of fun. I would get lots of practice time with my camera, so I hope my photography skills would also benefit from the experience. I would end up with a great reading/travel journal – and while I’ve never seriously considered writing a full-length book, this might be something that could turn into one…who knows? I’d also love the chance to share my East Coast roots with that California native I married.

I wish I had a bigger dream to talk about, but really, this about covers it. I hope you have more ambitious plans for a gift like this than I do – and if you do, I’d love it if you’d participate in the Assignment this week! Just describe your fantasy sabbatical in a post on your blog, and then leave a link to it in the comments for the main post at the Outpost!

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  1. Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I thought about that too, but decided it would cost too much to ship all the books :-). What would you do while you were there?

  2. Would you send me some Sam Adams beer from Boston? I’d like some really fresh beer. 🙂

    Sounds like a nice relaxing time. That’s what I imagine a sabbatical should be like.

  3. LarryG – A friend of ours travels for work more than he’s home, it seems. I wouldn’t want that, but I wouldn’t mind an occasional business trip.

    Mike – I refuse to believe you can’t get Sam Adams in Chicago, but I guess you’re thinking closer to the source :-)?

    Yes, I think that’s what at least part of a sabbatical should be too.

  4. A 6 month sabbatical sounds like a trillion dollars: hard to imagine. I usually limit myself to about 3 or 4 weeks in a Lonely Planet Guide. It is a lot cheaper that way and often just as rewarding.

  5. KFB – There’s no rule that says you couldn’t :-). They can end up anywhere, or with anyone, as long as it’s not me.

    Ken and Carol – It IS kind of hard to imagine a full six months off to do whatever you want, but it’s fun :-).

  6. I think a 6 month sabbatical would be nice. Maybe I could spend time observing and learning about other agencies like my own across the country–better yet, overseas. We all do things differently. Why not study what works and doesn’t work to bring home to see if it would work here? That’s if I had to do something work related.

    If it was something more pleasurable, I would love to do just as you described. What fun that would be! Or maybe take a blogging road trip, visiting other bloggers around the U.S. and Canada, touring bookstores, and blogging about my experiences as I go.

  7. Wendy (Literary Feline) – You and I work for agencies that do similar things, but I’m sure we do many of them differently, and we’re within the same region. A larger-scale tour to observe the practices of other agencies could be very enlightening.

    Oh, I LIKE that blogging road trip idea :-)!