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).