Monday, February 23, 2015

I landed in California 4 days ago, but it feels like I've only been here 1 day. Jet lag, I guess.

The first thing I did after being picked up at the airport and sitting in typical California traffic was get some In n Out burger! Cheeseburger, Fries and a Barq's root beer. SO GOOD.

Most days/nights have been a blur since then. I've been sleeping a lot. I can easily sleep to 11am if not longer. Partially because I can't fall asleep until 3am (on average) but also because the room I'm in is so dark. It's luxurious and I'm enjoying every minute of sleep.

Friday night, Kate and I went to Chili's (Buffalo Chicken Salad) in San Leandro. It was packed. We waited for about 30 minutes to be seated, which I enjoyed tremendously. Taking in the cultural diversities was entertainment enough. I'd say the clientele were 90% African American and Latino, 10% Caucasian (and that might be generous). 

Saturday night was Chipotle (Salad with Chicken and Guacamole) and then over to a friends' for Cards Against Humanity, which I can only describe as a Mad Libs style card game where you can only fill in the blanks with the most offensive options available to you. Check your sensibilities at the door, and it's WHOLE LOT of fun. 

Sunday was spent shopping with Kate and then we had Casper's (Cheesedog with a little mustard) from the Hayward location. I once got very stoned in college and ate TWO of these foot long hotdogs. I did NOT feel well afterwards. But then, I didn't really care either.

It may seem like I'm having a food tour of the bay area, but a girl's gotta eat and I am enjoying all my favorite things. Even Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and Trader Joe's frozen burritos and tamales. 

Two posts ago, I said I was concerned that US me would want to stay in the US and that Australian Me would be out of luck. Well, US me is still concerned for Australian me, but at this point and for the next few months, I'm going to relieve myself of the burden of figuring out "the rest of my life". There is no great sin in enjoying where you are in the moment and future me is just going to have to live with that. Wherever that may be.

So far, I'm having a great time taking it easy and enjoying myself with no agenda.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last night in Oz

It's my last night in Australia before the big adventure. Everything's all taken care of. I've checked into my flights, booked an airport shuttle, packed my bags and enlisted the help of my flatmate to assist me in carrying my luggage down 4 flights of stairs in the morning. My friend Kate will pick me up from the airport in San Francisco.

I've really enjoyed the last two months, which is exactly how long I've been unemployed. Coming and going as I please, watching all the movies in the theatre, golfing, planning this trip I'm about to go on. I've spent a lot of time with friends and that's been the best part.

The next two months (hopefully longer) will be more of the same. A quick recap:

  • San Francisco / Bay Area for 9 days
    • Friends
  • Seattle for 4 days
    • Friends
    • Pike's Market, etc
  • Florida with the folks for 25 days
    • Met's vs Red Sox spring training game
    • Harry Potter World
  • Scotland
    • Glasgow
    • Loch Ness
  • Paris
    • Too much to list...I'm looking forward to these blog posts =)
  • Italy (not yet booked)
  • Copenhagen (not yet booked)
  • And then whatever my heart desires
I vow to update this blog at least once in each location, ideally a little something everyday (at least when I'm in Europe). I will also try to include more pictures than I have included thus far (current photo count: zero).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stress Bucket

There is a clear difference between knowing something and feeling something. For example:

I know that:

  • I'm going to have a great time travelling
  • I am building amazing memories
  • No one ever said, "Gee, that was a terrible idea to travel the world" (thanks for that one, Meegz)
  • I have enough money
  • I have enough time
  • If I have any problems, I have friends and family all over the world who would help me
But the closer I get to Thursday (when I fly out of Oz), the tighter I feel. I have been trying to define it, describe it...nail it down so I can get over it. I have no fears about running out of money or getting injured. I have no fears about getting lost or being in a plane crash or terrorist attack (which would be reasonable fears considering the state of the world in 2015). Here are my best attempts to explain what's got me all bunged up.

  • At this point, I want to move back to Australia and fear that when I'm in the US, I'll want to stay there, leaving "Australian me" out of luck
  • I am saying "Goodbye for now" to all my friends in Sydney but it still feels like "Goodbye forever". The heaviness in my chest and tightness in my muscles are strong as ever.
  • I've been "planning" for 6 months. Planning every detail of when to quit my job, where to go, what to do when I'm there. I've trained myself to focus on the future. Now that it's here, it's time, I am worried that I will not enjoy myself in the present moment.
Even as I type these things, I know they are ridiculous fears. I will not be sitting at a cafe in Paris thinking, "Why am I here? I should be planning my trip to Copenhagen." Just like today - I am going to a farewell lunch in a half hour with a handful of friends. I will be in the moment, enjoying their company. Just like two days ago when I was out golfing with a friend. At no point was I thinking about anything other than how wonderful the weather was and what awesome chip shots I was making. =) 

Knowing that my 'fears' are irrational, I want them to go away. I want to loosen up in my down time. I wanat to stop filling these quiet moments with worry. 

Ok, nerdy/self-help time.

What would future me say to today me?

"Don't give it another thought. When a worry comes up, let it come and just as easily as it came, let it go. You don't need to keep yourself busy to distract yourself either because then you're not letting the worry go. You're capturing it and putting it deep inside you to deal with after the busy work. It doesn't need to be dealt with because it's not valuable or valid. 

Pretend like it's someone you accidentally run into on the street. Say 'Oh, I'm sorry" and move on.

P.S. You're going to have a great time on the trip and no matter how much you plan, you can't possibly predict it all. It's way more awesome than you can imagine!"

Thanks Future Me! I feel much better!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bagpipes, Loch Ness and Kilts. Oh, my.

After two restless nights and acidic stomach-churning days of research into flight plans and options, options, options I finally found something that would work perfectly.

Glasgow Scotland!

Scotland's largest city with tons to see and do. The flights were easy to book and the transfers made sense (for example, some options had me flying into Gatwick and out of Heathrow...a bullshit complication that I just didn't need).

The options and opportunities never stop, and this is something I'm going to have to learn to lean into but I'll save that line of thinking for another day.

I've booked flights from Miami to Glasgow and Glasgow to Paris. It's starting to feel like the adventure is about to begin...and it damn well should as I fly out of Oz in 8 days!

P.S. On Saturday, I was in a park in Sydney having a coffee and some dude was playing bagpipes. If my life were a movie, that would've been excellent foreshadowing...and we could have a montage of my flights with bagpipe music playing throughout. 

-end scene

Monday, February 9, 2015

What I've learned so far

Last week, I went to Samsung (my old place of work) to have lunch and coffee with some friends. One of whom asked me, "What have you learned so far?" Meaning, what have I learned since my last day at Samsung, since being jobless and free. It was a HARD question. Here is my attempt to answer it.

My instinct, once becoming unemployed, was to pinch my pennies. Save all the money I could for my "upcoming adventures." I think I spent $20 in something like 4 weeks. Great effort really! But what a miserable time I was having. I rarely left the house, watched too much TV, didn't see anyone for a meal or coffee.  Like any corporation will tell you "Plan, Do, Check, Act (or Adjust)". I planned to save money. I did save money. I looked at how it was making me feel (bored and lonely) and adjusted my plan. "What's the point of saving money when you're not really living?" I asked myself. I decided that I would still be frugal, but at least buy a coffee every day. 

Side note: Australia has fantastic coffee. Really. They know their stuff. For instance, Starbucks never took off here. I know of two in Sydney and they're where all the Americans go to be tourists and drink terrible coffee. Australia, instead, has small coffee shops EVERYWHERE. And Lane Cove (where I currently live) has some of the best coffee I've had. 

So, I'd at least buy coffee, which helped me relax and spend money here or there on meals out with friends, seeing Wicked at the Capitol Theatre, golfing, etc. Lesson 1: Just because I wasn't in America or Europe didn't mean that my life wasn't worth living (aka spending a little money on). Phrase to remember: "Enjoy yourself".

The second instinct I had was to sleep in. Why bother waking up at 8am, when I didn't have to. Sleeping in was great for about a week and then I started to feel like I was wasting the day. It's much better to go to the movies (which I've done A LOT - one of my favourite things in the world) while people are at work. There are far fewer people to hate for talking during the film. The buses and trains always have a seat in the middle of the day. The library is open (free wi-fi and endless entertainment). Everything is better. And if I wanted to stay up to 3am writing or reading, I could do that and then sleep in, but as a treat, not a habit. Lesson 2: I prefer to be out and about in the world while everyone else is at work. Phrase to remember: "Sleeping in is great...every once in a while."

There's one final thing. It's not something I necessarily learned recently, but it's something that keeps coming up in my life. A lesson I tend to have to learn and then re-learn. Lesson 3: Options are great, but they can be a great burden too. Phrases to remember: "Pull the trigger" or "Throw my cap over the wall"

I have spent more hours than I'd like to admit just looking at my options. Example: When would I like to fly to the US, where would I like to go and for how long in each place? First, I knew I was getting my Citizenship on Jan 26th and could then get my passport (after waiting 10 business days and then applying for my passport and paying to expedite it's delivery - p.s. The Australian Government completed my passport within 48 hours). So, I did my math and figured that Feb 19th was a good day; enough time to get my passport (and allow for any unexpected mishaps), not so much time that I'd be sitting around doing nothing for too long. As it turns out, I have about 2 weeks "down time". Then came the 'where'. Did I want to go to San Francisco to see friends or just one friend or should I settle down there for a while? Did I want to go to Cleveland to visit family? Did I want to go to Boston because I'd never been? Should I fly or buy a car somewhere and drive around? These types of questions are fun at first. But the options become too many and a little too crazy. "I suppose I could fly into Cleveland for a day or two, but then who would I see and how could I only see one or two people and then fly out of there? No, when I go to Cleveland I'll want to go for a week or so. Could I do that now? But then you're postponing going to Europe." Blah blah blah. I finally just sat down and forced myself to book flights. I decided that whatever I booked would be perfect. 9 days in San Francisco, 4 days in Seattle and then on to visit my parents. As soon as I booked the fights, it felt like a HUGE weight was lifted...until today.

I have to book my flight to Europe and I'm done putting it off. I am meeting a friend in Paris on April 6th. You'd think that'd make my decision easy. You're wrong. The airport(s) near my parents' house don't fly to Paris that week (I'm using Qantas Frequent Flyer points - that was another I pay cash or use the points). So, do I fly to another US city and fly out of there (Boston?) or do I fly to Europe earlier and entertain myself for 4-5 days somewhere other than Paris?

Oh boy, that was today GONE. I started looking up Easter Festivals. Did you know there is a small town on a Greek Island where two churches fire rockets (like fireworks) at each other across a river all night from 8pm until after midnight on the Saturday before Easter? So, I looked into that for the better part of an hour. Three layovers on several airlines I'd never heard of, 18 hours total travel time -- Yeah, I could do that, but there were NO websites that give opinions on the best hotels or how to get to the festival. Plus one site said that most people actually hide in the churches for safety because "Dangers: Being hit by a stray rocket." Would I even be able to get a picture of it or would I be hunkered down somewhere, trying to avoid fiery rocket death?

I've thought about (meaning fully planned every possible option for) going to Iceland, Chicago, Boston, Greece, Ireland, Seville Spain...I don't even know if I'm having fun anymore. It is at this point where I throw my hands in the air and say, "STOP IT! Just book something! It doesn't have to be perfect. Just pick something and GO!"

So, tomorrow (after I get confirmation that my parents can take me to an airport that's 2 1/2 hours from their house) I'm going to 'pull the trigger'...'throw my cap over the wall' and book something. I will book it and after I've booked it, I will make it work.

Stay tuned for destination deatils (because even I don't know at this point).