I started the New Year with an IV drip in my arm, in the back of my father-in-law's car, in front of the home of a nurse from a small village somewhere in Nicaragua. A few days prior I had gotten food poisoning from a medium rare steak at this otherwise excellent steakhouse in Managua. My blood was septic, I had a stomach virus, and had to be put on broad spectrum antibiotics every eight hours for about four days. It was tough but I was incredibly fortunate that my in-laws were able to take such great care of me and hired excellent healthcare professionals. Had it been left untreated I could have faced some severe health complications, potentially even death.
Since becoming an adult I've had on and off bouts of minor depression but it really started festering in the past two years. Daily life became bleaker, I found little enjoyment in most things, and it felt like my vision was slowly losing color, literally. In therapy I came to realize that most of my sense of self was external, often materialized by the work I did for others. With how much pressure I was feeling to perform well at my full-time job, and having closed myself off from helping friends with their projects, I truly felt worthless. It is difficult to shift away from this reliance on external validation, as this became ingrained very early in my childhood, but I am actively trying to appreciate myself from within.
In late 2017 I had my fun with cryptocurrencies and the frenzy of trading one coin for the next, only to be humbled in the third week of the following year. I was crushed as I never sold the crypto for fiat to realize those would-be colossal gains. And for whatever reason at the beginning of this year, I saw that my portfolio was quickly recovering. It was profitable to sell, not quite nearly as profitable as late 2017, but profits nonetheless. I sold off most of my assets in the first quarter of the year, only to see records shatter left and right only months after.
I briefly tuned out of the noise during the summer, but in early August I saw an old friend launch an NFT project that clicked with me. Financially it was a flop, though fortunately my entry was very modest. It did however get me to see the bigger picture of NFTs and the growing applications of blockchain technology overall, and since then I've been active in several communities that I've grown to appreciate at a very human level. No Lamborghini in sight any time soon, not that I'd actually purchase one anyway, but creatively I have felt very invigorated since entering this space.
It is probable that no other company I'll ever work for will offer the sheer amount of resources that Google did, but sadly I never got to enjoy many of them due to starting my time there fully remote due to Covid. The work itself was challenging in its own right, but doubly so for me as it was a different type of software engineering than what I had made a career out of. Not having the camaraderie one would have in a physical environment made it much harder to learn and reach out for help, which snowballed into paralyzing self doubt and feeling slogged down. Even the corporate structure worked against me— I had three different direct managers in my 15 months there, never really able to have a solid mentor figure to confide in.
I decided to leave them for a very early stage fintech startup, which much better aligned with my skillset and values in working on a product that helps people make better financial decisions. It took months of mulling over but once I had set on the idea it was a huge breath of fresh air.
I got my first iPhone! This unremarkable event was relatively significant to me as every single smartphone I've ever owned was from the Nexus / Pixel line of Google phones. They served me well for over a decade, but in leaving my former employer I had enough motivation to make the switch. Many, many years of doubting and criticizing Apple's phone have left me with the same impression of having my first MacBook Pro: "Wow, I should have gotten one sooner."
I did the most domestic traveling this year than any other year before. I went to:
- Waikiki, HI
- Carlsbad National Park, NM
- Seattle, WA
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Arches National Park, UT
- Oakland, CA
- Blackfoot, ID
- Yellowstone National Park, UT
- Fairbanks, AK
- New York City, NY
- Orlando, FL
I can't take credit for most of the planning of these trips, as they were done basically all by my wife. For me there's something quite stressful when it comes to planning itineraries, likely my issues with being punctual to anything, so I am ever more grateful for her diligent planning abilities. There's a whole assortment of photos I took and will one day share, either here or there somewhere on social media.
This year marked three decades of being alive. I celebrated by going to see the Delicate Arch a second time with my wife and one of my dearest friends. Though it was not my first time seeing the arch, it was ever more impressive in how it boldly stands on its own in this bowl-like canyon. Yet, despite its show of strength, there is no guarantee that it'll stand there tomorrow. It is a gentle reminder of how delicate anything on this earth can be.
At the tender age of 24, my only brother Matthew passed away in November this year. There's an entire post I can write detailing his life, but it's my first time experiencing grief so directly and I am still processing it. It's still really hard to believe. The entire world has continued moving and his timeline has completely stopped. Forever. All this to say, he had a difficult life since birth and it was subject to only get worse over time. He's objectively in a better place now, and I like to think that brings some peace to my family.
Rest in paradise, brother.
Other highlights include seeing Pink Martini live, celebrating two years of marriage, spending a few weeks fostering cats, getting the covid vaccine, having a colonoscopy done, eating a full course meal at Pujol, visiting the Googleplex as an employee, and... realizing we're going to be parents next year!
With everything that happened this year, I've had quite a wake up call. Life is not only too short, but should be well documented. For every 20 photos I've taken, maybe one is shared publicly. But no photo can really capture a thought like writing something down.
I've made my assortment of failed resolutions every year, but for the next year I would just like to write more. Write here. Write in a journal. Write for myself, for someone to remember me by. Write to educate, teach, maybe even inspire.