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Q:  Who are you?

A: My name is Mervyn.  I’m a California lawyer who’s spending as much time as I can afford traveling through Asia and South America.  I enjoy eating, writing, scuba diving, and taking long walks on the beach. . .with yo’ mama.

Q:  Why are you wasting prime career years in your life traveling when you’d started a career as a professional? Don’t you want to make money/ have a family/grow up?

I’ll answer your questions with a question:  Would you rather eat interesting food, meet new people, climb rock faces over open water, scuba dive the world’s reefs, explore some of the world’s wonders OR would you rather be doing what you’re doing right now?

When I asked myself that question in 2009, I was sitting in my high rise office in San Francisco doing work that didn’t suit me for a department that wasn’t part of my plan.  I was tired, frustrated, and stressed out from trying to do a job that I neither wanted nor needed.

I had some money.  More importantly, I didn’t have a mortgage or kids or even a goldfish.

I girded my loins, talked to my firm, and we agreed to part ways amicably.  Considering the state of the economy, I think they were relieved.

My logic went like this:  I’ve always wanted to travel for an extended period of time.  If I didn’t do it now, the next chance would be in retirement.  Between me and my golden years stood a number of potential obstacles:  a mortgage, Alzheimer’s, cancer, a wife, her kids, honey badgers, etc.  As they say, there are no guarantees in life, not even death (see:  rapture) and taxes (also the rapture).

The question became:  If not now, when?

With that, I decided to move out of San Francisco—home to one of the world’s most powerful reality distortion fields—and spend a year experiencing life’s simpler pleasures:  interesting places, good food, good people, and the value of a decent Internet connection.

Q:  What do you hope to discover on your journey?

Let’s clear something up.  I am not on some self actualizing spirit walk.  I know who I am:  a self-centered man who’s smarter than some and luckier than most.  I am not in the throes of a mid-life crisis; I’m still young and plan to live well past 60 (which nulls the “mid-life”); I am also calm and lucid (which nulls the “crisis”).  I’m just a traveler.

Q:  Okay, we get it.  Sheesh.  We were just asking.  So you’re on holiday.  But why are you writing?  Doesn’t it take away from experiencing the local culture?  Isn’t it work?  You’ve admitted to taking days off from travel to write.  Why not just write once a week?  You write too much anyway.  I mean, look at this frickin’ question.

A:  True, writing every day puts a damper on a relaxing holiday.  It’s also hard to experience good food and good people holed up in your room.

I am writing, however, because I want to be a better writer.  Oddly enough, the only way to do that is to write.  A lot.  I read that to achieve expertise, one must devote at least 10,000 hours to one’s craft.  If you count the hours I’ve spent writing academic and legal documents, I’ve definitely cleared that mark.

Unfortunately, most of what I’ve written isn’t the writing I enjoy most.  I work best when making overstatements and sweeping generalizations .  I’d rather be Anthony Bourdain or Jeremy Clarkson than Richard Posner or Clarence Thomas.  I don’t give a damn whether you take me seriously as long as you read.

Let’s just say that that part of me didn’t get out much as an attorney.  You don’t get a lot of poetic license writing contracts.  God forbid that something I write here will be taken (too) seriously.  If I wanted my words to carry weight, I’d work on the whole walking on water thing.

So, to become a better writer, I’m writing every day.  Hopefully you all enjoy as I figure out whether or not I’ve got some writing chops.

Q:  Haha. So you ARE learning something about yourself on this trip.  So much for being “just a traveler.”

A:  I resent your use of logic.  Quit acting like a goddamn lawyer.

Q:  Who do you write for?

A:  My posts are longer than most daily blogs, so I think this site is best suited for office workers and incarcerated criminals (i.e. people who have the time to read extended accounts of traveling abroad).   I was one of you once (office workers, that is) and I know a good 800 word essay or article is an appreciated break.  Hopefully I can provide distraction and escape for the masses trapped behind computer screens for more than 8 hours a day, or those doing hard time.

Q:  Can I share this site with my friends/family/parole officer?

Of course.  I hope you do. Scratch that.  I command you to send readers my way.  Forward the site to your parents, siblings, your literary agent, and your link farms.  The more I feel like people are reading, the more fun it is for me to write.

Q:  What’s it like to write every day?

My relationship with what I write is what I imagine a relationship would be like with my kids.  They’re a pain in the ass to produce, some days are better than others, but if you bang out enough, you’ll eventually get a couple that you’re not embarrassed to call your own.

Q:  But every day?

Yes.  Every day.  I’m not good at half measures.  It’s either all in or not at all.  If I wrote once a week, I’d keep making excuses thinking I could just postpone it a day or two.  There’d be no pressure to write.  You would never hear from me.

Q:  Why did you choose East Asia and South America?

Because both places are inexpensive.  Also, I’m Asian and I want to learn Spanish.  I should have probably split that last sentence.

Q:  Did this site used to be “”?

A:  Yes.  You can read why I chose to rechristen the site here.

Q:   Why is your site named “The Overpacker”?

Because that’s what I am.  As a writer-photographer-Westerner I will always have more than I need.   As a food-ophile I will eat more than necessary.  As a lawyer, I will write more than is required.   That and the name had a nice ring to it.

It also led to the following exchange with my editor:

Me:  I like The Overpacker, but it kind of has a homoerotic undertone.

Ed.:  Yeah, like a couple homosexuals would be talking and one would say, “Mervyn’s a nice guy, but he’s a bit of an overpacker.”

Me:  It does sound like a gay action hero.  Or a gay porn site.

Ed.:   On the upside, that could increase site traffic because of misdirected searches.

Me:  Good point.  Let’s stick with it.

[Note:  I am not gay.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I mean, some of my best friends. . .nevermind.]

Q:  If you have an editor, why are there so many typos?

There are typos because my editor is good at content and publishing, but is weak at editing copy.  The level of service I receive is also equal to my editor’s pay (nothing).   Furthermore, my typos tend to be creative and numerous, so some are bound to slip through.

Q:  Who is your editor?

Yo’ mama.  But, ssshhhh, she made me promise not to tell.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 2:52 pm

    for some reason this guy made me thing of you. Probably the latent overt racist in me.

  2. Kristina Easterbrook permalink
    October 13, 2010 10:08 pm

    You made me laugh 🙂 We miss you!

  3. Valerie permalink
    February 21, 2011 1:55 pm

    Where are you now, Mervyn? The date of your last post is December 2010 (that I can see), yet its towards the end of February 2011 at the time of this writing…just wondering!

    Or am I missing something…which could definitely be the case…

    • March 6, 2011 6:47 pm

      I fell behind what with all the traveling and all.

      I’m working my way forward, one post at a time. A few are in the pipeline now and should be out soon. Stay tuned!


  1. Day 242 – A Taste of Home (Cozumel) « The Overpacker
  2. Day 243 – Blue Waters, Brown Guides, Green Money (Diving Cozumel) « The Overpacker
  3. Day 244 – A Trip to The Far Side (Motorbiking Cozumel’s Beaches) « The Overpacker

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