Oct 15th, 2008
(Written yesterday, October 14th)
Four months and two days ago, I didn’t leave thinking this trip would turn in to some sort of sabbatical.
I’m writing this while switching back and forth between this window and live update blogs of Apple’s new laptop launch event. I re-joined my favorite After Effects email list this morning and have been reading posts about color correction, alpha channels, and people bitching about why the Keylight chroma keyer is crashing on Vista.
Remember when I said I miss being creative? It persists. I still do. I miss my work. I miss making stuff. I miss the geeky stuff that goes in to all of it. I have for more than the last month. I’m even in a new city (Buenos Aires) and I’m still thinking about making animation and visual effects.
That’s how I know my new plan isn’t some sort of “do two hours of research and then Go to eBay. Go directly to eBay. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Find an accordion auction that’s about to end and buy it NOW,” Shipley spur-of-the-moment decision.
Okay. This is the new shit:
I am going to New York City to buy a new Macbook Pro. I will hole up somewhere in an apartment with internet and I will work. I love traveling, and I love my work. I miss my work. Why not combine the two and see what happens?
What will I make? I don’t know right now and I don’t really care. Animation? A visual effects project? It might not even be any good. It doesn’t matter. Maybe something less commercial than what I did at IMS Productions? More artistic? Maybe I’ll find freelance work and do it.
Where will I go?
Not only is it my next home, but most importantly, I will be living in a partner state in the War on Terror! Done and done.
At first I thought maybe Latvia or Lithuania. Maybe India or Istanbul. Not South America. I want somewhere relatively cheap and potentially wacky enough to throw some inspiration my way. The cheap part rules out Tokyo, as much as I’d like to be in some sort of Lost in Translation fantasy world of confusion and karaoke bars. Then I was on the Ryan Air website looking for cheap flights. I saw Krakow listed amongst 50 other cities I could fly to for less than 20 Pounds.
Seeing the name Krakow made me remember Max Robbins’ blog and his warm remembrances of Poland. (*excerpt below) I just went back and read them again. Then I started looking up how much things cost. It seems reasonable. It’s not Peru cheap, but it’s not Europe expensive, either. It’s close to a bunch of things in Europe and Eastern Europe.
It will be cold and I want cold. (he says now…) I want to bundle up when I go outside, feel a blast of cold air, and then come back to a warm apartment at night and drink hot coffee in a dim room with hardwood floors and watch what I made earlier in the day. I want to sit in bars and restaurants where the windows fog up on the inside, then go home, sleep, wake up early, and fire up the laptop and work.
Somewhat serendipitously, this specific idea really took shape yesterday on Monday morning. I started looking at prices for a Macbook Pro. A quick Google search revealed that Apple is releasing the next generation of their notebooks today – and they did and they look predictably awesome. Nice.
After not working for more than five months, and traveling for exactly four months and two days without working, I can now say that I really do love my work. Damn, I didn’t mean for this trip to be a sabbatical, but maybe it is. The trip isn’t over. It’s just changing a little bit.
Will this be a bad call? Should I continue with The Plan, go to Brazil instead, then look for work on a boat to cross the Atlantic like I thought? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll know when I’m done. Maybe the laptop will get stolen or broken. My trip will be shorter after spending money on a new laptop. Perhaps I’ll offset that cost by working. Who knows. Who cares? I know that I need to do something different, this is what I’ve picked, and I’m excited about it.
Now I’m gonna stop talking about it and start running some numbers in my Google Documents Spreadsheet of Glory that – at this moment – tells me my trip budget is on track and going surprisingly close to what I predicted it to be before leaving. We’ll see what we can do about that.
Newly excited Shipley out.
* Max says about Wroclaw, Poland:
The area I ended up living in is next door to the art university. It has this great area that looks like a Roman garden. Its a collection of huge parks, Japanese gardens, art exhibits and manicured lakes in the Italian fashion with hanging plants adorning the walkways. I would commute nightly after work to the center and spent more than a few nights getting to know the dives of Wroclaw. My often companion from the hostel introduced me to many heavy metal dives and a charming placed known as Heaven which never closes.
The food, the girls, the atmosphere slowly had its effect on me. I have a personality that requires a great deal of stimulation. In Wroclaw it is possible to go out four nights a week. That leaves the weekend free for external fraternization. I have to say I am addicted. On a given evening after I complete the days duties around 10PM I go to a local bar called Manana. … I like the bar tenders who know me and are always willing to swap a story. I like the girls who are eager to dance and flirt. I like the people who are happy to know someone from out of town who speaks a touch of Polish and likes there [sic] city. I like the high quality beer that runs me about US $2. I like that if I get something nice to eat and go out for the evening I will spend $20 and have a great time. I like that I can do it anytime.
He’s got more than this in his blog, especially his “Farewell to Poland” entry, but that should give you a little taste.