As an avid NPR listener, I’ve been taken with a small degree of jealously of late as much of the programming this past week has focused on the veritable “V” word ~ “Vacation”. One program in particular highlighted a 2001 publication by author, Cindy Aron. In the book
Working at Play, Aron, an associate professor of history, traces the growth of vacationing as a family and a social ritual. She examines the tension between the American work ethic and the concept of leisure. Interestingly, I’ve been reading another book that highlights the topic of the American work ethic and leisure. In
Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Tale, the author, Chris Ayres, a British journalist, chronicles his return from embedded duty in Iraq with a marine unit, to a new assignment as the showbiz correspondent for a London newspaper. Talk about culture shock! This tell-all opens with Ayres getting the sultry once-over from a beauty in a white bikini at poolside, and everything goes wacky and downhill from there with a bogus assignment to cover singer Michael Jackson, his Neverland estate and his sleepovers. Marveling at the perpetually sunny weather of the sci-fi metropolis, and the Tinseltown crowd of Beverly Hills, Ayres quickly becomes caught up in the whole scene, including getting his own piece of the American dream, a house. “I'm a big fan of bubbles ... they're my idea of a good time”, Ayres writes, but when the housing bubble bursts, the American dream soon becomes a nightmare. Ayres’ book is a wry, self-deprecating and offbeat look at the excesses of America over the last few years, disguised as an expat’s memoir of life in California. As for vacation travel, this expat offered some inspiration to NPR when listeners were asked to share stories of successful vacation travel at $100. a day or less. Our family vacations involved some serious math calculations as we traveled throughout Europe each summer for more than a decade, pre-Euro days. Camping was the order of the day, in a tent. Meals were prepared over an open fire. There’s nothing like ‘spaghetti alla carbonara’ prepared and eaten ‘al fresco’. If your vacation plans require a
passport, our library offers this service. Planning a trip to Italy? Get inspired by watching the film,
A Room With a View or better still, read
the classic novel by E.M. Forster. And remember ~ "lavoro per vivere, non vivo per lavoro" ~ "work to live, don't live to work". Buona Vacanza!