February 11, 2007

The 170-day Weekend

Today marks the end of my long weekend. As I'd skipped the post-high school and post-college trips to wherever, this was the longest stretch of time I'd ever had off.

I explicitly decided not to set a lot of concrete goals for myself ... I wanted to be pretty goal-free for the first time. That being said, there were some things I wanted to get done. Herewith my Lack-of-Progess Report and observations of being a slack bastard:

  • Travel: I went to Las Vegas, Big Sur, Chicago, Paris, London, Southwest England, Normandy France, Kauai, Palm Springs, Aruba, and Las Vegas (again). I learned that it's better to spend more time in fewer places and that I don't really go in for the whole luxury resort scene (unless it's in Vegas). I also learned that I love San Francisco enough to settle here and that I want to visit more places soon.

  • Poker: I made the leap from limit to cash game no-limit. I'm happy to have ended up in the black, but also learned I'm not good enough to make any real money playing cards. I also learned that Colma can be a bit of downer place to trek out to by yourself. But fun with friends ... especially if you end up sucking out to win a $300 pot against them (as happened last night).

  • Games: By far my area of biggest accomplishment. I tore the heck out of the World of Warcraft expansion pack and was the 7th person in my guild to reach level 70. I also was the 2nd to buy the epic flying mount; in my view the best reward in the game. Burning Crusade is an amazingly well done expansion for WoW. With the number of new environments, encounters, character models and environmental details packed into the release, Blizzard completely delivered. In other gaming areas, I definitely under-performed especially with console gaming. But I hope to get a Wii soon.

  • Books: I read a bunch. Of particular note are Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Jonathan Lethem's Gun with Occassional Music and Ian Mcewan's Saturday. Nassim Taleb - while a bit of a douche - writes a great book and Fooled by Randomness confirmed a lot of suspicions I'd had about the markets.

I was exceedingly fortunate in that I was able to take this time off without having to worry about how I was going to support myself or a family or a mortgage. However, before I went to work for Blogger I was planning on doing the same thing. Unless you're already in the whole family/mortgage part of life, I found it's relatively easy to save enough money to buy yourself some time off if you make that a priority. Do it!

After a couple years of working it may occur to you "Wow. I'm never going to get another summer vacation. It's pretty much going to be work, work, work forever." Not true! I think this is a particular American deception but the truth is you can quit your job without starting another one a week later. This seemed impossible to me but it's true.

A caveat, however. When you have fewer responsibilities, those you do have take on a disproportionately larger weight. I found that no matter how little I actually had to worry about, I'd find some task or obligation that would become the "one big thing" nagging at me from void. Sometimes this one big thing would be laundry. The point is that you can always identify one obstacle in your life that, if removed, would make everything better (an annoying co-worker, a bad debt, a rash). Turns out this probably isn't true at all.

Taking time off isn't a path to enlightened bliss. But it is a great way to get a new perspective. For me, it meant learning that I want to live and work in San Fransisco for the next long while. And that I definitely will want to take time off again one day.


Anonymous said...

I think this is a big difference between the US and Europe: Here (and, yes, I'm from europe), most people get at least 25 days of vacation (that's 5 weeks!) a year...

Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to kill a llama for all those travel experiences.

Anonymous said...

@PanMan: Maybe that's why the US economy is larger than next 5 largest national economies combined?

Anonymous said...

dear anonymous:

that's pretty unlikely to be the reason.

there are places where folks get even less holidays than in the US and which have smaller economies.

Pal said...

I liked "Saturday" too, the rest of his books were kind of hard to read for me.