November 15, 2011

Get good advice and WIN signed copies of The Fallback Plan


Times are tough. The economy sucks. 85 percent of college graduates are moving back in with their parents. If you’re like millions of America, your A-plan (Get an education! Find a job! Pay your loans! Buy a house!) is going exactly nowhere. Admit it. You need a fallback plan.

Well, you’re in luck. Leigh Stein‘s weekly “The Fallback Plan” column at The Faster Times offers cheerful, sage, humorous, and illustrated advice to those in need. Stuck in a rut? Looking for love? Hungry for change? Whatever your hardship, Leigh has an answer. Write her at [email protected]. And if that’s not sweet enough: if your question or quandary is published in the column then you win a free signed copy of Stein’s forthcoming novel, also titled The Fallback Plan

And now here’s the latest column, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Carolita Johnson a.k.a. “Ape-Face Johnson.”


Dear Leigh,

I have never left the state of Maryland in my life, due to school, work, and a fear of flying. Now I want to get the heck out on a trip. Where (in the US) would you suggest going? Or should I just stay put?

– Chris

Dear Chris,

I once paid $700 for an Amtrak rail pass and traveled the North American continent for thirty days. Am I recommending you do the same? Weigh these pros and cons:

PRO: Seeing Texas out the window for about three thousand consecutive hours.

CON: Sleeping in a chair for thirty days.

PRO: Having the train engineer, on a trip from New Orleans to San Antonio, take you on a personal tour of “the engine room” and tell you Mardi Gras train legends: midgets, grand pianos, and near-death experiences involving industrial-strength twist ties.

CON: Sleeping in a chair for thirty days.

PRO: Receiving a strip tease (from drunk man) in observation car on same trip, from New Orleans to San Antonio.

CON: Amtrak coffee.

PRO: Climbing/walking/hiking to the top of Mont Royal for approximately five hours and then taking a picture on your phone so everyone at home will be so jealous.

CON: Taking the “short cut” down, next to the sign that says DO NOT GO HERE, and then falling down a sheer mud face, your plummet only halted when you reach out and grab a birch tree.

PRO: Reaching places where there are rivers to kayak in, ponds to swim in, oceans to lie by, ripe nectarines to eat, borders to cross, and a hostel bunk bed with your name on it.

Bon voyage,

Illustration by Carolita Johnson