Author: Alvira, Marco

Finding the Right Words to Describe Just How Much I Hate Something

Typically thereís few things thatís agitates folks more than hearing a teacher complain about their summer vacation. After all, two months off of work is far better than a poke in the eye. In fact, I am down right protective of every second of that precious respite from the daily pedagogical grind. Thatís why I am NOT happy about this summer. There are certain promises that summer has to offer that carry me through the month of May: bluegrass, camping and backpacking, fly fishing, lots of baseball viewing, leisurely cups of morning coffee with the newspaper on my patio, afternoon gin and tonics with a cigar on my patio, copious World Cup soccer during the right year, and plenty of classic movie viewing on TCM.

This summer, an odious two and a half week trip is looming and casting a huge pall over my plans supine and leisure. 2014 is the year that my beloved wife has put her foot down and decided that Iím taking her to Europe for the trip of her dreams. I thought that I had covered all those trips of her dreams when, over the years, Iíve driven her cross country, taken her on a cruise to Alaska, flown to Hawaii, and spent a week with her in New York. Except for the trip to Hawaii (Iíve passed extended amounts of time in the tropics and Iím not a fan), those trips were a joyful addition to my summer, but not this one. Airports. Stuffy airplanes. Flight connections. Hauling luggage on crowded sidewalks. Banking arrangements. Itineraries. Pet and house sitters. I feel myself growing ill just thinking about it. The dread and stress have me a frazzle.

Four days after the conclusion of the Fatherís Day Festival, my Ford Expedition will be headed north toward the airport in Sacramento. My stomach will be knotted with worry over the certain calamities that await me in punishment for the temerity to travel outside the borders of North America. If God had wanted me to go to Europe, He wouldnít have provided me with a travel trailer, a V8 engine, and a beautiful continent to transverse. Donít get me wrong. Iím not one of those xenophobic, European hating types. I love my Birkenstocks. Dark Swiss chocolate rules. Iím not fond of Belgian beer, but Scotch is a staple. Iíll pass on French wines in deference to California vintages, but Italian suits and shoes rock. I can tolerate small doses of Europe from afar sans the frantic preparations and overtaxing strains of European travel.

To me the matter is simple: The word recreation is comprised of two parts re (back, again) + create (to produce, bring forth). I can hardly comprehend how scrambling to catch buses, flights, and trains; filing through crowded narrow streets and museums amid shoving hordes of tourists; spending piles of money for a stressful time can be construed as recreational. Several summers ago, with our little tent trailer in tow, my family and I drove through the rolling grasslands under the big skies of Montana. The Dixie Chicksí ďWide Open SpacesĒ blared from the radio and my then 12 year old daughter sang along at the top of her lungs as the fresh prairie air poured in through the open windows. That was recreational. Last year my buddy and I backpacked 15 miles to a lake at 10,000 feet to catch 16 inch golden trout. That was recreational. My mind, spirit and body were at peace brought forth again anew.

No, my friends, I am not happy about how the heart of my summer is being ripped from my control. This European ďvacationĒ feels more like a march to the French guillotine, and I will count down each of the eighteen days of our sojourn like a prisoner counting years in the Bastille. Whenever I voice my objections to this trip, the first timeworn retort is, ďAs a student of history, youíll love the real y old (fill in the blank).Ē Do I need to spend half a fortune to visit a thousand year old cathedral when I can stand atop the world on an alpine plateau gazing over ponds and erratics left behind by the last receding glaciers 12,000 years ago? Lament. Rue. Dread. Loathe. Itís difficult finding the right right term to accurately describe how I feel about this trip, but soon Iíll have eighteen days to think about it.

Posted:  6/1/2014

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