Last year was an incredibly busy one for me: I held three different jobs, moved cross-country, and in between did a decent amount of traveling. Yet I didn’t talk about it much online. I posted only twice to this blog, 9 times to Instagram, and only a handful of throwaway jokes to Twitter (though this one was pretty good). While the exercise of distilling a year down into a few paragraphs was fairly exhausting, I enjoyed the opportunity to look back at a year that was deeply challenging and rewarding. It’s longer than I initially expected, but I guess that’s what I get for going so long without checking in.
I started 2018 in Kansas City, working as Creative Technologist of Barkley’s (now defunct) innovation lab, Moonshot. In January, we finished Marco Polo, a comprehensive exhibit showcasing conversational technology. Being the only developer on the team taught me to learn quickly and solve problems by myself, but it soon became evident that to continue my development as a developer, I needed to work more closely with other developers more senior to myself. I started looking for a new position where I would be challenged in different ways than at Barkley, and in March, I found it, at SelectQuote.
My tenure at SelectQuote was relatively short, but during my time there I was surrounded by a team of incredibly sharp engineers. I worked, for the first time, on substantial enterprise applications written with React (😍) and benefitted from a strong culture of code review and pair programming. I learned a ton, but I knew my role there would only go so far in getting me closer to a job in New York, a goal I had had ever since visiting the city for the first time at age 13. That’s why, when I finally heard back from Postlight, a digital product studio based in Manhattan, I knew my time in the Midwest was, after 26 years, coming to an end.
I couldn’t have been more excited to start at Postlight at the end of June. A decent amount of Postlight’s engineers work remotely, so I knew it wouldn’t be an issue to work from Kansas City in the interim, but I immediately started looking into the logistics of moving myself (and some subset of the mostly-full one-bedroom apartment I lived in) to New York City.
In September, I sold my beloved Honda Fit (not a week after paying it off in full), packed a handful of boxes into a ~300 ft3 moving container, and said my good-byes-for-now. Being of the ilk of Midwesterners totally undeterred by a 20-hour drive, my parents graciously offered to drive with me from Kansas City to New York, so on September 30th, we loaded several suitcases, an air mattress, and my fiddle-leaf fig into a rental car and set the GPS towards Brooklyn.
2018 was my most physically active in recent years (probably ever). I started weightlifting, taking advantage of the company gym at Barkley, by following the Stronglifts program (at the behest of A Swole Woman). I had never done any form of strength training before, so this process was arduous but surprisingly fun and rewarding. In March, when I left Barkley, I could squat my own weight, which several months before would have been next to impossible. I didn’t seek out a new gym to continue my practice, but intend to continue weightlifting in the future.
I also rode my bike. (A lot!) According to Strava, I rode just over 1,176 miles in 2018 (way up from 187.4 in 2017 and 700.8 in 2016). The bulk of these miles were during the summer, as I was training for a metric century ride (100km, or ~63mi, consecutively). On most weekends between May and July, I participated in Cycling Kansas City’s RiDE (Rider Development Experience) program, which taught everything from cycling nutrition to efficient cadence to group etiquette and hand signals. I also enjoyed getting to know other local cyclists who were interested in improving and learning more about the sport.
On July 8, I completed a full century, riding 104.7 miles over 6.5 hours. I rode the last 30 miles by myself, after making a last-minute decision to attempt the full century rather than the shorter metric. This was certainly the most physically grueling thing I’ve attempted to date, yet it’s also one of my proudest achievements.
Amidst everything else, I had the opportunity to do a decent amount of traveling, for which I am incredibly thankful:
- In January, to Springfield, to see SSLYBY and friends.
- In May, to Arkansas, for hiking and art at Crystal Bridges.
- In July, to San Antonio, for sun and goodbyes; then later to Chicago, to see My Bloody Valentine, the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the Art Institute, and to drink Mälort; then even later to South Fork, CO, for cabin time with family.
- In August, back to Arkansas for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition at Crystal Bridges.
- In September, back to Springfield, for tree-climbing at Phelps Grove; then to Alva to say goodbye to (101-year-old) [Great] Grandma Brown; then to Mill Run, PA, to see Fallingwater on the way to NY.
- In November, to Burlington and Montreal, for beer and poutine.
- In December, to Steamboat Springs, CO, for skiing and boardgames with family.
I’m so, so fortunate to have had such a full and rich 2018. Throughout, I was surrounded with friends and family, in Springfield, Wichita, Kansas City, and now, in New York. I am in relatively good health (and still flossing!) My fiddle-leaf is still (mostly) alive.
This post was longer (and later) than I expected it to be. As grueling as this was to put together, I enjoyed reflecting on a year that was one of growth, change, and exploration. I wish the same for 2019, though I’m looking forward to having NYC as my home base for the immediate future.
Without further ado, here’s a list, in no particular order, of a few of the things I enjoyed in 2018 that went unmentioned above.
- Gold Star Beer Counter
- Nintendo Switch: Celeste, Hollow Knight, Breath of the Wild, Smash
- On YouTube: BA Test Kitchen, UNHhhh, ContraPoints, Gill & Gilbert
- These meals, among many: pierogies and borscht at Veselka, soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, ramen at Ichiran, Friendsgiving at Shay’s
- Terrace House
- A tortilla press my dad made me for Christmas
- Ashley’s foster cats: Jasmine, Dolores & Bernard, Mal
- James Turrell Installations: in Bentonville, Queens, and Montreal
- Orecchiette with Buttermilk, Peas, and Pistachios
- These albums: Like a Baby by Jerry Paper, Breathing Techniques by Importer / Exporter, Be the Cowboy by Mitski, Konoyo by Tim Hecker
- Red Bean Bun from Takahachi Bakery
- Mooo! by Doja Cat
- Ricky & Whitney’s Epic Table
- Fighting in the Age of Loneliness by Jon Bois and Felix Biederman
- Everlane’s Coach Jacket in mid blue
- Thompson Tees (for the second year running)
Thanks for being here with me. 😘
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