Saturday, December 31, 2005

Out with the Old

To truly wrap up 2005, the whole work issue has resolved itself. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Ok, so that's probably the most over-quoted statement when it comes to endings, but it was rather true in this case.

Leaving the office was terribly easy since, due to the holidays, hardly anyone was in the office. I dropped my key off and left. And that was that. There wasn't even the chance to give my boss the double-pump, double-fisted finger.

Well, I'm not that sort of guy but, damn, that would have been sweet.

Like putting in my notice to move out of my apartment, it hasn't really hit me yet. It's still the weekend, so nothing has changed. I'm still doing my weekend routine ("habit and routine make my life possible" - I'm feeling the need to watch Memento...). I think there's going to be some sort of emotional response come Monday morning.

A freak-out, maybe?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

More Wheels, More Motion...

I just dropped off the following letter this morning:

December 28, 2005

Innovative Properties

Dear Innovative Properties,

I would like to give notice of my intention to move out of apartment 3 at 3432 S Emerson Ave. as of January 31. Thank you for the last three years of good building management.


Peter Schwarz

And with that, I'm really on my way to vagabondom.

Wow, I'm homeless.

It's going to take a little bit for that one to soak in. As a friend of mine said, "It's not like it's the last apartment on Earth." I've been there three years now, so it'll just take a bit getting used too, I think.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holy Crap

A few days ago it came to my attention that I had a lot of work to do to really get this started. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop thinking about all the work.

What do I have to do, really? Here's a list of things:

  1. Quit my job
  2. Buy a plane ticket
  3. Buy a guide book for the place where the plane tickets will take me
  4. Move out of my apartment
At a glance this doesn't seem like much. Really, as it turns out two out of the four were remarkable easy. Buying stuff is pretty easy. It's just like throwing money at a problem. It's the first one and the last one that are presenting some problems.

I thought quitting my job would be easy, a no brainer, a walk in the park. Give my notice, hand off my projects and just walk away. This was true, until I had a brief conversation with the VP of sales in the men's room.

First off, the men's room is not a place I like to have a conversation with the VP of sales. Nor anyone, really. People should just not talk in there. There should be at least an illusion of privacy. It makes the conversation seem really awkward.

Secondly, I've made my decision. Nothing is more awkward than having a conversation that involves trying to change my mind about a course of action such as this. I don't want to say anything that leads one on, but I also don't want to be an asshole (which, as we know, I don't care much for assholes). Unfortunately, this leaves me saying very little and being very vague, until I can just extricate myself from the conversation.

Easy in this case: flush, wash up, leave men's room.

A few days later, however, I run into the VP of sales in the men's room again (what, are we on the same schedule?). He tells me how I'm on the table, they need my skills, blah, blah, blah, I should go talk to the CEO.

First off, I'm not going to take any sort of counter offer. I like to think that it's a done deal and that I don't have a price in this. It's a dream of mine to do this, so there shouldn't be anything anyone can offer me otherwise.[1]

Second off[2], I'm quitting. Does he not get how this whole thing works? People should be coming to me with offers, ideas, questions, reasons I should stay, etc. That's how supply and demand works, right?

Thirdmost[3], I've bought my tickets. It's a bit of a crutch answer but, thank God, I've got a little bit of a shield to hide behind. Easier to say no.

The other hard bit from my list of Things To Do is moving out of my apartment. That is a whole other subject and one that will probably be occupying much of this blog for the next month or so.

[1] Ok, so silly amounts of money would do it. Everyone has a price, right?

[2] What's with all the numbered reasons this time around?

[3] Thirdmost? Is that even a word? Spellchecker doesn't seem to think so. But then, blogger's spellchecker couldn't tell that "coversation" was a misspelling of "conversation". I like the sound of it, though. "Thirdmost." For several reasons...oh, wait, enough lists.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ready, Set...

As of this morning, I have my tickets for Argentina. February sixth. It's set.

Somehow I thought there'd be more to say on the subject. I'm certainly excited. It's one of the bigger steps to take. Buying tickets, as I noted in the last post, is one of the real steps I have to take to get myself going.

I realize now that there is a ton of work to be done for this trek. Unlike previous times, where all I need to do is cancel my paper and my mail, this is going to involve a lot more. It's makes it a bit daunting. I'll need to move out of my apartment, find storage space for my stuff, find a home for my car while I'm away.

I've got the ball rolling. Tickets are everything: they keep me on track, they remind me of what I'm doing, they keep me focus. Simply, they create a deadline. I don't really work well without deadlines, so I absolutely need it.

28 days in Argentina. Damn, I hope that's enough time.

I always forget that February is a short month...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Location, Location, Location

One thing that I didn't really think about before I set this all in motion was where to go. You'd think that I would have had some sort of Idea before I began work on this little project, but I'm not really a planner when it comes to trips.

Usually what happens is that a particular place grabs my attention. The place has to have a certain romantic appeal to it. The trip down the Yangzes is a good example, two weeks in Paris is another. So what place has planted itself into my psyche this time around?

Argentina. Home of Argentine Tango. Ah, that has a bit of romance in it. Spend a month in a beautiful (and, well, developed) part of South America. A few weeks in Buenos Aires, enjoying Hispanic culture, laid back lifestyle, and, of course, tango. Then wander around the country a bit. Northward to the mountains, or, perhaps duck into Brazil.

I've picked Argentina for a few reasons. The first of which is that it's a Spanish-speaking nation. I have, deep in the recesses of my mind, a little understanding of the Spanish language. I've noticed that if I spend a reasonable amount of time around spoken Spanish, the more of my Spanish gets dredged up from the bottom of my brain.

Another reason is that the Argentine economy is just now dredging itself back up from the bottom. They're economic crisis extend from the fact that between 1991 and 1999, the Argentine Peso was linked to the US Dollar.

When the Brazilian real plummeted in 1999, the peso was unable to follow suit, leaving Argentine exports vastly more expensive than those of its neighbour.

A decline in world prices for farm products, and the global economic slowdown of recent months, only worsened Argentina's problems.

Lower export takings have limited the country's ability to earn the foreign currency needed to repay dollar-denominated debts.

declining industrial activity has denied the government the cash to balance budgets, while levels of unemployment and "underemployment" top 30%.[1]
In order to help fight this the Argentine government unlinked the Peso from the Dollar. This has resulted in a much devalued currency (70% as of 2003). It adds an economic benefit to the budget-conscious traveler.

Now, I've been told that Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. That brief statement, I think, is what really let the seed of the Idea take root. I had thought about it briefly, for the sake of tango, but that didn't seem like enough to draw one to a country. I am, however, a huge fan of Paris. That is reason enough.

So Argentina it is. That covers one month of vagabond travels. What will I do after that? I'm still thinking about that. Like I said, I'm not much of a planner.

[1] BBC Business News

Monday, December 12, 2005

Becoming a Vagabond

I'm planning to go vagabond, to go walkabout, to shrug of the shackles of the working world for a brief moment and enjoy different corners of the world.

Err...that and the less lofty goal of getting the hell out of my job. Traveling is a brilliant excuse.

The plan going forward: write about it. I would like to write about the process of closing up shop, packing away my things, and making my way to various destinations. I have several travel related posts on my essay blog, but they each encompass a single, complete trip. What I would really like to do is compile the whole experience into a travel journal.

It begins with quitting.

I've been wanting to do something like this for a very long time. I've traveled a bit here and there. My friends seem to think I'm well traveled. I feel like I've only touched the tip of the iceberg.

The problem is, I've always found that a job gets in the way of travel. Sure, it provides for the travel expenses, but at the expense of time. Plus, it's a hell of a lot more dull than traveling ("So, I just figured out that one does actually get atomic writes with a J2ME RecordStore object! How cool is that"[1]) .

Besides the problem of being dull, I've found that I hate it. It's the little things. Ok, honestly, it's my boss. He's an asshole. Everyone tells me, "that's true everywhere," but he is seriously an asshole. There are other reasons, but he was the main source of my unhappiness at work. I will refrain from that whole barrel of eels.

At the end of last month, noticing that my name was showing up a lot on the Big Board, I decided it was definitely time to put my plan into action. Four weeks early, for those who knew my plans. I waited around all day, much later into the day than I usually would, to get a moment to pull my boss aside.

The wide-eyed look was priceless. I've become number five to quit under his helm in the year he's been here. Considering that there are never more than eight developers at anyone time, this is a huge turn-over rate. Still, I couldn't bring myself to tell him the real reason I was quitting (hated working for him) and so I made up some excuses (company strategy, management decisions, sales out of control).

Then I threw out the ace of spades, that dip at the end of the dance, that brilliant piece of evidence the detectives are always pulling out at the eleventh hour: I'm going to do some traveling for a few months.

Turns out, this is an untouchable reason. It's adventuresome, it's cultured, it's bohemian, it's a personal choice with no personality conflicty-type reasons. In a word, brilliant.

My relief after this was amazing. I've never felt such a weight off of my shoulders. The tension slipped off my neck and I felt free. The song "Revelry" by Sea Ray was my song of the hour[2].

... For about a week.

[1] No shit, that's a self quote. I'm a geek.

[2] Which, as it turns out, is not as happy a song as it sounds.