2015 in review

Preface-y stuff #

The last post was a healthy brain-dump and a good way to get this thing started. But it wasn’t exactly positive.

As I look toward the new year and start compiling a TODO list, I’m also looking back the good stuff of 2015. Highlights, milestones, all that jazz.

In doing so, I’ll:

1. Inform my list for 2016.

What did I like? What can I improve? What can I get insanely stoked about? (Or just wistfully amused. Both good)

2. Facilitate positive self-reflection.

We could all be a little more grateful, couldn’t we?

3. Help me remember stuff.

I tend towards nostalgia, and I suspect one reason for that is because I have a terrible memory. Friends and family will recall events that are distant and vague to me–sometimes completely forgotten. Because I don’t remember very many events or details of my past, the ones I do recall are a bit shinier than maybe they should be. Or I’m just a sentimental guy.

Little of column A, little of column B?

So I’ll go month by month and recount some things that happened, ending each section with a thought of gratitude. Should be fun.

NB: I link to stuff in this blog. Be sure to open them in a new tab–this doesn’t happen by default for some reason. Use either cmd-[click] or ctrl-[click] depending on your OS


January #

Honestly, I don’t remember much from this month. It was cold, and I ate a lot of ample hills. That’s all I remember. I may have run in -15F weather at some point. New record!

We may have also burned our Christmas tree in our backyard. Actually, that was a very memorable night. Not least of all for our neighbors who looked on in horror as our dim yard was lit up by a raging 10ft-high blaze.

Grateful for: Heat. We didn’t have good heat the year before. That was terrible. Also ample hills. Duh.

February #

It was the dead of winter, in what is uncontroversially the worst month of the year. The only reasonable thing to do to allay the misery that is February in NYC was to hop a train to Pawling, NY and see one of my favorite musicians at a hilarious venue: Daryl’s House.

Yeah, that Daryl.

We didn’t see him play, and while I dig his stuff, he’s far from a favorite. No, we saw Joey Eppard (of the band 3) totally crush it. DVD of that performance is coming out this year (fingers crossed).

The show was amazing, and meeting Joey after being a fan of 3 for over 10 years was really special.

But I think the highlight was the train ride home. Or rather, waiting for the train. After too many Captain Lawrence IPAs.

Those 10 minutes of idiocy, uncontrollable, peacock-pitched laughter, and the immanent danger of an oncoming train, will not soon be forgotten.

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“Shit, we should should probably go [get off the tracks]”

Grateful for: Not being hit by the train that night. Also, now that I think about it, also pretty thankful for the nice woman who offered us a ride from the train station to the venue, which we hadn’t realized was a solid 2 mile hike…

March #

Not a ton happened in March that’s terribly note-worthy. Snow was melted, good work was done, and good times were had.

If I had to pick a highlight, though, it was probably when Devo and I said “Fuck it, we’re getting that clip ourselves.”

‘The clip’ was literally a 3-second soundbyte of a video game NPC that had become something of an inside joke for a few years. Yet year after year, the oft-quoted greeting of this (admittedly minor) character was nowhere to be found on the internet. So we decided to literally play through the game (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion if you’re dying to know) until we could record it ourselves.

And then we played it back. A lot.

Behold, victory.

I think I may have also gotten my WASD keyboard this month, and fully switched to (attempting to use) VIM, thereby reaching an 11/10 on the geek scale. I’m pretty sure I lost friends.

Grateful for: Where I’m currently writing might be one of the coziest spots possible. Suuuuper cozy right now.

April #

Easy: Climbing trip in Joshua Tree!

Hopped a plane with some folks I met through BKB, and headed out to SoCal for my first real outdoor climbing trip.

A lot to remember, but highlights include:

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The Crew

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Unnamed boulder problem

Grateful for: The peace of wild and sublime places. The barrier between the material world and…whatever is not that…it’s much more thin. I become closer to God, and I become more myself.

May #

I interviewed for and was accepted to a new job at a startup based in DUMBO. May 1st was my first day. Super exciting, a little intimidating, and–just over 7 months in–totally still kicking my ass. Despite feeling like a n00b, it has definitely been a period of significant growth and an amazing learning opportunity. The exposure to all the different aspects of running a tech startup, from marketing metrics, sales calls, and fundraising; to aspects of automation, on-call schedules, code release cycles, feature prioritization, and all the aspects of the server orchestration that we do–it’s just a ton of information. There’s never a dull moment.

It doesn’t always feel like it day to day, but compared to 6-8 months ago, I think I’ve gotten significantly more technical. I need to remember that. I also have a more complete picture of what goes into running a business.

The highlight here is that I think I hit one of my goals way earlier than expected: work for a small company, have more responsibility, do more hands-on technical work / get exposure to that world, secure more flexible working time/locations (I’m currently working remotely from the west coast), and learn a bit of programming.

Totally separately I had also been doing a pseudo-internship at a restaurant in Manhattan. The chef was a friend/coworker’s boyfriend, and he let me come in for a few Saturdays and help. He also tapped me to assist him in a chili cook-off. It was a ton of fun. Also, we won!

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Victory was in no small part due to the massive quantity of margarita we gave out

Grateful for: Incredible parents and siblings that have helped me get where I am.

June #

After hours and hours of work removing literal tons of rock and glass from the soil, amending, planting, watering, mowing, cleaning, building, etc. The Gowanus Roadhouse reached completion. And it is good.

Here’s a before picture that doesn’t take into account the decking we ripped out, sawed, and snuck into dumpsters around the neighborhood. (The larger planks we hauled onto our roof with old rope we had). We did the same thing with the tons of rock we got out of the soil.

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Some after photos, about 18 months after moving in (and busting ass):

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Spring time corn hole matches!

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A seemingly lonely fire

Grateful for: The mentors and friends I was privileged to meet during my time at Princeton.

July #

With Aundre’s help, I threw the best party I’ve probably ever thrown. (It was preceded by the fastest Costco run probably every achieved in Brooklyn).

Some highlights were:

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One of two firework shows we watched from our roof

Something that sticks out was that some photographer friends of Aundre’s (or friends of friends) were taking pictures, and it made the party feel like a place to be. It felt like I had looked at some photo of a fun Brooklyn party in an Instagram feed and just stepped into it. But I was hosting it.

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Obligatory redcups. Cheers!

I also felt myself sort of … revert. In a good way. I was who I remembered being more often in high school and parts of college: fun, funny, dare I say it–cool?

The month was perfected by an amazing roadtrip with two of the best roommates a dude could have. Rich, Gabby, and I headed
up to Vermont for the VT Brewfest. Met up with one of Gab'z old buds, drank a bunch of great beer, and laughed a lot.

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These goons were the best of goons

Grateful for: Roommates with equal parts humor, adventurousness, depth, and patience for what a ding-dong I can be.

August #

Hopped a plane to CA spent a few days of catching up with some buddies, snagging great Bay Area runs, and having one excellent night at the best dive bar west of the Mississippi.

At the end of the week Nate and I headed up to the Sierras.

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Nate practicing foundation

Nate has a keen sense of adventure. Since leaving behind his religiosity about distance training he’s been trying to make up for lost time. We packed up our shit in about 1 day and made for Edison Lake. The goal in my mind was to climb over Alpine Cole again. I had not seen it since I was 11.

In my head I remembered it being one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I almost died jumping over a crevasse while bearing a top-heavy pack.

But did I?

I wondered if my 6th grade mind just didn’t have a sense of perspective. Almost a lifetime (at that age) later, would I find that it was no big deal?

Nate and I got there to the pass in blazing fast time (our first day was over 13 hard and heavy miles just fuggin up). We ended up accidentally approaching the pass in reverse–ascending the backside and coming down the side I remembered being so hard climbing.

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The backside was still a very hard ascent, but we crushed it, topping out by 1030 and taking celebratory shots of Monkey Shoulder.

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Crushed it

The best and worst part: the descent held up to what I remembered. At 24 y/o it was a struggle. It was long, and the tallus was still impressive. Parts of the climb down were nearly bouldering problems–and there were really big and scary crevasses that would be fatal if poorly jumped.

Grateful for: The means and time to travel, and the upbringing that nurtured my love of the outdoors.

September #

After returning from the backpacking trip I went straight to Durango, CO to work there for a week. I started each day watching the sunrise and we’d end the work day with something outside. I got to mountain bike, run, and swim at a really nice rec center. Oh and we drank lot of great beer. It was like summer camp.

I got back to Brooklyn 5 days later only to immediately start packing for my brother’s bachelor party the next day–another backpacking trip, this time in Harriman State Park.

It was an incredible group of dudes. I laughed a lot, did some great hiking, a bit of running, some shoddy hunting (armed with a wrist rocket–never did get anything) and a fair amount (read: irresponsible) of whiskey drinking.

I also became a spirit of the forest, which was good.

Many laughs were had, and by the end I’d never been so tired. I think I slept the entire next day. After weeks of backpacking, and working out at altitude (Durango) I was ramshackled.

The month culminated with my brother gettin’ hitched. That whole wedding could be a post unto itself. I’ll spare you the verbiage.

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Face averted … I’d probably just stopped crying here

Grateful for: I have incredible siblings. My brothers and my sister are sources of profound joy and continuous humor.

October #

A month of trials and effort, bookended by a triathlon and a massive apartment move.

I successfully did my first triathlon in week one. I had trained for a few months, and was pretty happy about the progress I’d made on the swim. The day of the race I made the mistake of not doing any warm-up swim (dry-land only) and paid for it dearly when my body hit freezing water.

On a frigid and incredibly windy Montauk morning.

At 6am.

Re: the swim, I can pretty much just say “I didn’t DNF”.

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I’m not the best cyclist out there.

I spent the night before in a tent (no cozy BnB for this guy) and came in as the second fastest runner of the day. So that felt pretty cool.

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Lodging for the evening. #luxury

Moving apartments had its moments of humor, and we were stoked about our new spot in BK. But in general it was pretty miz. Not worth expanding upon.

I’m just happy it’s done…

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Grateful for: At our previous apartment, I would go out into the back yard and hear birds chirping and the church bells ringing. Those quiet moments were beautiful.

November #

Got to travel to Mexico with the company which was pretty sweet. Easy to get stoked about working with a view of the ocean out your back porch. Sleeping on the roof under the stars and seeing sunrises in the morning was a beautiful way to start and end the day.

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Pictured: A meeting

For thanksgiving I visited my sis in Virginia which was awesome, and then I caught up with Rich in DC. First time visiting the city, and I enjoyed it more than I expected. Very cool place. The running trails in particular were impressive.

Month ended with a concert of the year. Vulfpeck’s new album came out, and I saw them at Brooklyn Bowl. It was a perfect show. I probably could have died happy that night.

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This is perfect marketing…

Grateful for: Funky jams. The right song not only makes the world feel better, it makes YOU better.

December #

Nothing incredible happened before wrapping up 2015. We had a great Christmakkuh party at our new spot, I finished my first ever ruby on rails app (super jenky!) and I visited the bay for a few weeks.

Getting up early and seeing the sunrise from my favorite hilltop may have been the highlight.

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Grateful for: Muddy trails with crisp air that smells like decaying leaves and traces of bayleaf.

 
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Leaving

6:30 # One final time I look around my room, barely lit by a grey January morning beginning to emerge from the night. I scan over the bookshelf, my desk, my closet, the floor, and everything. I’m partly nostalgic, partly just making sure... Continue →