Amster-done. Now: what’s next?

Wow, my planned time on this trip is getting short. I have plans through August, but September will see me at the end. What’s next?

First: a few parting thoughts on Amsterdam:

The city is fabulous.  Easily one of my favorite European cities.  Take time to walk around it. All of it. The central rings have a gravity to them so you will constantly get pulled toward the center and all the madness that is the Red Light district.   That’s all good.  However, you owe it to yourself to explore further than that as well.

  • See the museums.
  • Take a tour of the canals.
  • Get to some nice restaurants.
  • Rent a bike to explore further in town.
  • Also: bike out in the countryside.  Don’t think about it, just do it.

And then, there are some other distractions.  Like touring the Heineken brewery.  Culture?  No, not really.  But fun.

WP_20130702_005 (1)
Video wall set up to look like a bar. Pretty slick to see in real life.
Some dude chats you up from the ceiling. Potentially this is ceiling cat’s owner?
One can make a lot of beer in these.
LED wall made of beer bottles. I think some enterprising college students should build this in their dorm.
The rooftop deck, complete with bbq. It was a less than warm day, so there weren’t a lot of takers for their seven Euro “burger on the roof” offer. I, however, felt right at home.
Decent view from the roof.

After taking in the brewery tour (and three beers, since they were provided as part of the tour…) A cruise along the canals seemed in order. I was surprised by the fact that as you cruised past many houseboats, you were basically just looking in on people going about their daily lives. Seemed a bit voyeuristic.

Canal cruising. Looking in people’s living rooms from water level. A bit awkward.

Still, it’s another beautiful way to see the city.

Canal is a great way to see many old and awesome buildings.
The entire town just begs to have an overwrought romance written for it.
Boom mic? Camera? On a boat? Curious. Alas, I never found out what they were recording.

And then, what post about Amsterdam would be complete without a couple of signs. Neither one of these are bashing on the Dutch language though!

So, in the U.S. there is the saying “hang up and drive.” Here there is a different problem: people are cruising around on their bikes and scooters, no helmets, blissful and mindless, chatting away on their phones. Looks like they have put up signage to attempt to discourage this behavior. Isn’t working:

Not strictly obeyed.

Lastly, I’ve engaged in discussions in the past about the obvious and inevitable trend towards a cashless society. Turns out the starting point is here in the Netherlands at a little bakery / market. Who knew?

You cash is no good here, sir.

Now I’m back in London, and I’m contemplating the end of my travels. I’m feeling a bit travel-weary, and can see that I’ll soon want a place that is “mine” again. To stop living out of a backpack, and have a place to put my toiletries and not pack them up the next day. I have one or two more adventures in store (Arctic!  Edinburgh!  Croatia!), but it’s time to plan for what happens after that.

So, when I started this, I wanted to accomplish a few things:

  • Figure out what is next for me career-wise.
  • Decide if I want to re-build a life somewhere other than Seattle.
  • Figure out what life I want to build next.

Basically I thought I wanted to “find myself” but actually I think I wanted to lose myself. To do this I selfishly cut off all ties I had: people, job, responsibilities, and looked to experience new things with no pre-conceived notion of who I was or how I would deal with them.  I feel like I’ve gotten far enough away that I can now accurately see back to who I was and what my life was like.

I know that I had it pretty good.  Amazing friends, fantastic job, great city, the works.

And it wasn’t enough.  Why?  Well, no surprise: ’cause I wasn’t settled with myself.

Now?  Still not there.  But I’ve got perspective.

  • I’ve spent time in places that I fantasized about living.  Mexico (nope, couldn’t live there), Spain (Barcelona and Valencia are tempting), Amsterdam (kinda in love with this city right now) and London (pretty attractive… but man there are things I would miss about Seattle).
  • I’ve found that I just don’t stick with any sort of drawing like I used to when I was younger, when I would lay in bed all day and draw comics.  So, art?  Probably not in my future.
  • Writing: love it.  I write every day now, sometimes for hours, sometimes for minutes, but every day something.  I have a “story ideas” folder that runeth over.  Can I make a career of it?  Would I want to?  Well, it’s worth seeing how I can take it to the next level…

So: September.  Probably time to get gainfully employed again.  Having this amount of time off from working makes going back to work very scary.  All my freedom, gone!  My free time, gone!  Shackled to a desk, responsibilities, deadlines, stress and demands!

Also: teammates who become friends, satisfaction at making a difference, doing good work, creating things that others need or will use, learning and being challenged.  Oh, and money.  That’s always nice.

So, my next job I need to ensure one of two things: either the job allows me time (and brain power) to pursue my other passions (which right now is writing), or ideally: it enables me to exercise my passion at my job.  Now, most writers I talk to say “dude, you don’t wanna be a paid writer, it sucks, the pay is awful, and it takes your soul away”.  Okay, warning heard.  But I will still look for something that could light me up.  The alternative is a job that I can still have enough energy in my spare time to pursue writing as well.

Where to re-build my life?  Ah, that’s a big question.  Luckily I still have July and August to stew on that one.  And to check out potential jobs.  And to answer all the questions about my life.  Sweet.

However, next: bring on the arctic!  I’m quite excited: this will be so very different from all the traveling I’ve done to date.  No big cities, no works of man to admire, no teeming crowds and exciting restaurants and new bars to try out.  No beaches and sun and warmth.  Nope: a boat, a bunch of ice, cold weather, never-ending days, salt water and barren tundra and freezing winds.  Plus: no Internet.  Gasp.

Hmm.  Is it too late to just go back to Spain?

9 thoughts on “Amster-done. Now: what’s next?

  1. I don’t think it’s a particularly bad thing to want to lose yourself at times; it helps solidify what you consider home, be it a place, your own body, a person/people. You don’t owe the corporate world your entire life, and your friends surely all understand the need to go out for a while. But then, I’ve been of the mind for a long time that a good dose of selfishness can be the healthiest thing around.

    And don’t consider yourself a trainwreck! (I say with all the vast assurance of complete ignorance of this part of your life.) I’ve always thought you’ve had a lot going for you. Have an AWESOME time in the Arctic, and don’t be too surprised if you find some golden, sunny days there. If you end up in Dubrovnik, have a drink there for me. I love that place.

    1. I’m all for the benefits of selfishness in moderation, but I’m also seeing that I’m most complete when I’m being of value to others. So, like most things, it’s a balance, eh?

      Dubrovnik is certainly a target, I’ll lift a glass and “prost!” one for ya.

  2. Oh, gods, yes. Total selfishness is just as bad as total self-sacrifice, with far douchier consequences. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll get it right.

  3. I’m living vicariously through you. I’ve had a ball reading through your last couple posts, and am so excited to hear about your arctic adventures as they come up. I hope I one day have the balls to “lose myself” as you have, and embark on an adventure such as you have. Sending positive thoughts your way in regards to work and a place of living.

    P.S. – If you do decide to go back to Spain, please let me know. I’d love to go back. Los Angeles is boring.

      1. I guess it’s more familiar, rather, than boring. Especially when you’ve lived here all your life, and have had the last couple months to have ‘new and fresh’ experiences everyday. Plus, it’s dirty, noisy and huge.

  4. I’m off to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks time for my second visit. Having done the touristy stuff and partied a lot last time I’m looking forward to just wandering and seeing what I stumble across. Glad you enjoyed it though, that’s helping to crank my excitement up for the Dam 🙂

    Good luck with your decision making over the next couple of months too!

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