About 6 months ago, in June of 2014, I decided that I’d had about as much of my job as I was willing to put up with, and was ready to go nomad. The 30,000 feet version of this is that I’d been with my company for 17 years, working as a software architect, and most of it had been great: a terrific bunch of coworkers that I was genuinely fond of, sane management, agreeable (and often interesting) work, convenient location and schedule, good money, etc. But much of that had dissolved in the prior year-and-a-bit and was not likely to return anytime soon. It had become just a living, and that’s no way to live; so I stayed long enough to make sure I wasn’t running away, and then decided I’d leave at the end of October.
Just before I could do that — like, 10 days before the end of the month — a round of budget cuts laid me off. When they gave me the news, my first reaction was an ear-to-ear grin. An upcoming management reshuffle had made it sound more appealing to stay, but I’d been disappointed that I might not be hitting the road. Now, they’d done me the enormous favor of booting me out, completely short-circuiting the argument my heart and my head were having and also giving me a very considerate severance check. I’d been wracking my brains trying to figure out how to engineer getting laid off with severance for about 18 months, and they’d just handed me my fondest wish. So I grinned with delight, and did my best to reassure them that I’d be fine; if you’re a decent person, and they were, laying folks off is hard, and I saw no reason for them to feel bad about giving me what I wanted most. I packed up my stuff, hugged some coworkers, and set the plans into motion.
As I write this, just a few weeks later, my condo is sold, my stuff is packed up and stuffed into a shipping container on my sister’s property in Washington State, and I’m set up in a guest room at my old college buddy’s house, enjoying the holidays with what is effectively my second family. On January 2nd, I make my rounds of friends and family around the country and then on January 28th I head to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I plan to stay for the next year. Where I go after that remains to be seen.
My friends, family, and acquaintances have, nigh universally, said, “You have to keep a blog with pictures, so we can see how you’re doing!” My biggest concern with all this is staying in touch with everyone I know (it’s a small list, granted, but all the more important to me as a result), so I’m going to do it here. I don’t exactly know what I’ll be writing or how often, but I can promise pictures and I can promise lots of words. I’m a literate bastard, and I plan to abuse the privilege. So far, I have two ideas in mind:
- The basic conceit is in the title: “Nice Places to Sit and Read”. I’ve found that whenever I take vacations, my favorite parts — whether it’s in my own backyard or in the Himalayas — have been when I had a chance to sit in a neat place with a good book and something nice to eat and drink, and just get lost in the book, looking up every now and then to enjoy my surroundings. So that’s what I’m going to try to record here: all the neat places to sit and read that I find. And also the not-neat places, and the travel along the way, and what’s going on around those times, but the linking thread will be that theme.
- At least initially, Chiang Mai is known for having around 300 Buddhist temples. I’d like to try to hit them all while I’m there, just to have done it, so expect a lot of temples. Plus, they sound like they’d be pretty cool places to sit and read, so they’ll serve a dual purpose.
So, expect lots of temples, coffee shops, books, and probably no small amount of complaining about how freaking hot equatorial countries are. (Although I’ve lived in Phoenix during monsoon season, so Chiang Mai weather isn’t really much of a concern.)