Vacuum In My Head

On Friday I had gone to the hospital to get my leg and ear checked on. The leg was giving me a lot of trouble and I’d gotten worried about it. Some trouble was expected given the amount of walking I’d needed to do, but for most of the first week I hadn’t been able to go anywhere beyond a few blocks due to the pain. I was worried I’d torn something, which would have put a dent in my trip. I also wanted the ear checked, since it was still giving pretty poor reception.

The visit to the hospital was quick and painless, and the nurse and doctor quite friendly and on top of things. The ear was suffering from vacuum in my head. Really. The bacteria that had infected the ear had also consumed the oxygen and the canal to the nose/mouth hadn’t cleared yet, leaving the eardrum distended inward against the pressure. So my head needed a refill. I’m working on it.

The leg was just strained, but the doctor recommended that I walk a little less and ride the bike a little more. So I went out dancing. As usual, though it hurt like hell at the time, my leg actually felt better later. I haven’t figured this dynamic out yet, but there it is.

So this morning I decided to go out and ride around the city, stretch my legs, check out some more of the job scene, take some pictures, dodge some mopeds, etc. Got to the Central Station (train station) where I had locked it up and…

Remember the junkie? The one with the mountain bike. The black mountain bike. That looked kinda familiar now that I think about it….


I’d hoped that my bike would last longer than two weeks. They had smashed my U-lock so hard it sheared through the rotating bolt holding the lock in place.

I spent some time thinking about it and trying to decide if I was to buy a new bike or just hump the pack around. I eventually realized that I really wanted to get the exercise and experience of riding the bike across Europe, so I’m now the proud new owner of a American made mountain bike, delivery to be taken tomorrow, and two very heavy-duty bike locks. the Dutch recommend three if you’re planning to stay in Amsterdam, and I’ll probably pick up a third somewhere else soon just in case.

1570 Dutch Geldings. do the math.


I just had a conversation with the bartender (a very cool gentleman from Amsterdam) about philosophical writings. He’s recommended Dewey, Louis Menaud (“The Metaphysical Club”) and William James (“Pragmatism”), categorized as ‘Pragmatist’ philosophy. I recommended Lao Tse. We had a good discussion of perspectives on life and how it relates to these two philosophies, mine being somewhat nihilistic and his being more proactive.

This is much of the reason that I’ve had difficulty keeping this journal consistently. As I sat here and tried to type the last four paragraphs, I’ve been talking with the bartender and the really cool Canadian woman sitting beside me. The Canadian is from Toronto as well and has been traveling Europe solo for the past couple of months. We had a great conversation about societal differences, how it relates to flirting, etc. With this sort of interruptive stimuli it’s difficult to get very far on anything. Ironically my best writing is coming when I have limited stimuli and a chance to absorb and think freely.

It’s amazing, almost overwhelming. I’ve met a great number of interesting people (and scads of knobs), any of which would be worth getting to know in a more settled environment. But traveling you only get enough time to scratch the surface, get a snapshots of the people you’re meeting before you or they move on. By the nature of such contact the people you end up having more than a 3 minute conversation with are people with whom you share some perspective and interests, some common philosophies or personality traits. In this way the similarities are emphasized more than the differences, but still for me the gestalt is so information dense as î to be difficult to absorb quickly. I’m having trouble pacing myself well enough to actually get these things down on ‘paper’, and seeing so much it’s hard to keep in all in my head in the meantime.

Sunday morning as I came home from the dance I found myself in a quandary. Amsterdam is beautiful. I’d just had more fun than humans beings can stand, I was starting to make friends, and work is available. At the least I could get work at The Pig with a little luck that pays for my bed and greatly extend my traveling time in so doing. If I went the business route I could live quite well; the Amsterdam high-tech market is quite good.

The air is incredibly clean here. There is relatively little vehicular traffic, and a lot of that is the trains or the trams, the trams at least being electric. The majority of people get around on bicycle or foot. So at 6am on a Sunday morning the sky was deep blue, the air smelled better than any city in the US that I’ve ever been to, and I was looking out over the trees, old buildings and canals when I realized that I wasn’t going to stay. At least not yet.

When I make decisions I try to go by the rule of thumb that no decision should be made for only one reason. So my choices are almost always broken down into several different lines of reasoning. If one set of reasons sounds consistently weaker than the other, it often tells me which way I should be looking at jumping. The decision itself of course is never completely logical or objective, but that method helps me dial in on where my head is at.

In this case reasons to stay mostly involved an idyllic (in an urban sense) environment, a new culture that was much more liberal and in many ways considerably happier for its inhabitants whatever you thought of the details than conventional US culture, some really cool experiences (parties, people) and a general sense of ‘different, therefore better’. Some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life…

Reasons to continue onward… In part simply that I have another 110 days of traveling to new places ahead of me. What sense in stopping at the first place I see? Parties I’ll find elsewhere, or at home. I have friends at home, I’ll find more wherever I settle. Seattle is idyllic at least as many months of the year as Amsterdam, though Amsterdam is probably a prettier city whereas Seattle has a prettier locale. Not a single reason, but several…

The most powerful argument for me is simply; There are many more places to see. Why am I so footloose? All of my life, as much or more as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been wanting to go somewhere. Go -everywhere-. I’ve come to one of the coolest places in the world, but I’m not ready to settle. Should I be disappointed about that?

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