I had already made my book and music online purchases for my trip back home when I realized that there were two other books that I had forgotten. One minor setback — that actually helps with my personal finance — is that I always travel obsessive-compulsively light. I do not check in luggage, and I take only one reasonable carry-on and a computer case.
Between the incredibly efficient (yet probably not environmentally friendly) American washer/dryer technology and already having a stockpile of underwear and toiletries back home, I really don’t need to pack much anyways. Thus when on the trip to the States, I basically just fill my suitcase with clothes that I no longer wear (I essentially retire or relegate them to my U.S. closet) and a few small gifts (if any). While in the States, I permit myself to purchase only a quantity of goods whose to volume is equal to the size of my reasonable carry-on.
Not only does this safeguard me against spending an absurd amount of time running errands to make random purchases for friends and co-workers in Europe, it also allows me to stay within a budget. The items that can accumulate and become costly are iPods and CDs. CDs don’t take up any space at all. Once I buy them, I reduce them to electronic format anyways and store them inside my computer. Ipods — much cheaper in the U.S. because of the weak dollar — are inevitably what everyone asks me for and also do not take up much suitcase space. I can also get iPods for a bunch of different people in just one trip to the Mall — for some reason, everyone I know thinks that there is an Apple store on every American street corner, and sending me out on an iPod and/or MAC shopping spree is like walking to the end of my driveway to pick up the mail.
Why am I telling you this? Actually, I can’t remember and you probably wouldn’t care anyways. Now I remember. Yes, there were two other books that I had forgotten to purchase:
- Amin Maalouf’s new book Origins: a Memoir about an uncle who had left Lebanon and moved to the U.S. and then to Cuba, and
- The classic 20th Century (yet little known) novel by the Sudanese author Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration North — essentially a Heart of Darkness the other way around.
I doubted whether to get them because — I am kind of like Elaine defining “sponge-worthy” — books take up valuable suitcase real estate. These two new additions make for a total of seven books vying for the same oxygen. Hopefully, though, I will be able to finish off at least two of them during my stay.
Anyways, thanks for listening. I know this isn’t the most interesting story, but I am really trying hard to avoid not talking about Obama and McCain. By the way, since you brought it up, have you noticed that both McCain and the Bush Administration have recently moved closer to Obama’s foreign policies? Bush is now going to sit down with the Iranians and is alluding to timetables in Iraq, and McCain is agreeing with Obama on Afghanistan.