Helsinki, Assembly 2013


I'm mostly writing this for myself.

I quit my job recently because it felt like I was just spinning my wheels. It felt like I was doing nothing of interest, just working 9 to 6 and growing older week by week. So, as scary as it is I quit. I decided to try traveling to see if that helped. I have no idea if it will help or if I'm just blowing money.

I debated where to go. Should I go to Japan where I have lots of friends? Well, it would be August and August in Japan or almost anywhere in Asia is hell on Earth as far as hot and humid weather go so while I might have been able to talk myself into it I thought I'd hold off on visiting Japan. Other ideas included maybe learning a language like going to Paris and learning French or going to Taiwan and learning Mandarin. Taiwan has the same problem as Japan in that it's hot and humid. There's also the issue that it would probably take 2 or more years to get any good at Mandarin and I don't think I'm willing to commit that much time to it. French sounds interesting although except for learning a new culture by living in France and learning the language there doesn't seem to be much point to learning French. Apparently it would only take 6 months though so not nearly the commitment as Mandarin.

Other ideas: I was originally planning to sell my car. A friend suggested before I sell the car maybe I should drive around the USA. See places I haven't been yet like Yellowstone or drive route 66. That sounded interesting though places like Yellowstone are packed in the summer so also maybe not the best time. Another idea is to take a class or classes or get a degree. I never finished college. Maybe I should study something completely new or maybe I should just learn all the stuff I missed from not finishing originally.

One advantage to the language classes or other classes is that it plans my time. If I commit to 6 months of French or getting a degree then I know what I'm doing for awhile whereas if I just travel my plans are far less certain.

Another idea was to go to Finland to Assembly, a demo scene party that's been running for more than 20 years and something I thought I always wanted to go to. At first as I looked into it I kind of discounted it. 5000 geeks mostly playing video games and being on computers. Wasn't I just trying to get away from computers? But then one of my friends just thought I should go if for no other reason that saying I quit and went to Finland would be a cool story. Then I met another friend of a friend who had lived in Stockholm and visited Finland and told me I MUST GO. He said now was the perfect time to visit and that I should take a cruise ship from Finland to Stockholm.

So, picked that. I'm writing this sitting in the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki waiting for the next demo combo.

As for how I'm doing well.... I knew I didn't like traveling alone so much. I went to Hong Kong once alone and hated it. I thought HK was amazing but hated being alone. I guess it's a chance to grow though. I need to learn to make friends easier, to talk to strangers easier. It's been 4 days so far and I haven't made much progress in that area yet. I had hoped to talk to some of the people at Assembly but so far I just met one guy on the train to the arena who had an entry in the 1k demo compo. Someone said walk through the demoscene area and if you see something interesting ask but I walked through a couple of times looking for things to ask about and most people were just browsing the web.

Helsinki is a very nice place in the summer. It feels relatively small. There's apparently 600k people in Helsinki proper and 1.3 million in the greater Helsinki area. Population density is about 1/3rd of San Francisco. Everything I've wanted to see has been walking distance from my hotel so far. I've walked all over the city several times already. Maybe I'll venture out a little in the following days.

I'm still mixed though on if travel is going to help me figure out what to do next. So far I haven't taken much time for reflection. I chose 3 weeks in Stockholm so maybe that will let me not treat everyday as a vacation day that needs to have a touristy activity. I'm also noticing how expensive traveling can be. I can probably find hotels for $120 a day or less which has been my target. That's $3750 a month though which is comparable to SF rent I guess but it adds up. If I pick one place to stay 1−3 months each time I can probably rent an apartment for around half that which would save money. But, it also means choosing a place. How do I choose between these things and are they going to help me decide what's next in any way, shape, or form?

I'm also pretty effing lonely. Of course I've been pretty effing lonely for years now. I keep thinking of outrageous ideas like having a contest "free vacation with me, all expenses paid" just to see who signs up. Why does everyone else seem to find meeting someone so easy? Maybe I'm just noticing the successes. I met a friend of friend here who met a guy through gaming. She's from here. He's from Maryland. He came to visit and they hit it off so he moved here. He's been here 10 months now.

The Slow Death of non-English Languages by Navigation Software
Helsinki Notes