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Looking at 2014

I always write either a year-end or a year-beginning post, depending whether I want to focus on reflection or resolution—or maybe depending on when I get around to it. :) Re-reading my 2014 resolutions post is a little heart-breaking, not only because I was in such a bad place (so much physical pain; I sound so defeated, in that post), but also because I didn’t stick to the plan. I was going to take this year easy, make sure I had time to paint my nails—or do some other “unproductive” thing — every week, ha. I was going to make exercise an equal priority to work, ha. I did much better on the resolutions to code, to read books (44 so far), and to generally be more positive, and I plan to continue those goals into 2015.

Some people would look at the year I’ve had and decide I’m not any better off at the end of 2014 than I was at the beginning:

  • At the start of 2014, I not only had a job; I was on my way to tenure. As of midnight tonight, I’m unemployed. I’ve got some tentative contracts in the works, and I’m talking to a few places who need full-timers; so, I’m OK, but it’s stressful, since Dale and I need to both figure out plans that work together. Resigning from two jobs, on opposite sides of a continent, in the span of a year: not something I hope to do again.
  • My arthritis treatment is at a standstill, until the job situation is covered; I know now that methotrexate is not the solution, though it does help a bit. Some things that didn’t hurt in January do now, but overall, I am in less pain and have far more mobility than at the start of the year.
  • I wanted out of Alaska — despite fantastic people and despite success in my career and despite a really good boss and despite owning a house there — and, while I am successfully out of Alaska, Dale isn’t, yet, and we don’t know where we’ll live, come spring.

But look at it another way:

  • I got to go to my first Code4Lib, thanks to their diversity scholarship, and I met some of my heroes. I met a couple of those heroes again, plus some new ones, at AdaCamp and Open Source Bridge. Thanks to AdaCamp, especially, I have a whole network of awesome people that I didn’t at the start of the year.
  • I am scheduled to speak at my second Code4Lib, in one of my all-time favorite cities, for the conference’s 10th anniversary. It should be an amazing time!
  • I have a significantly more impressive presence on GitHub (even without cheating, but especially with :)).
  • I’m a better programmer than I was at the 2013/2014 changeover. I’m more fluent in Python and JavaScript than I was. I am, ironically, less confident — something I’d like to explore in another post, if I can do it gracefully — but I have more things to point to, to talk myself out of over-harsh self-criticism.
  • I did end up finding a fun way to exercise, even if I still don’t prioritize it like I’d hoped I would: Ingress. I’ve walked over 100km with that app in the foreground of my phone, in addition to visiting a number of places I otherwise might not have. (That link takes you to a full description of why and how I play.)
  • All kinds of people helped me out on the job front, from sending introduction emails to tweeting that I was looking for a position, to finding projects they were willing to outsource to me. I had no idea so many people were rooting for me, and it was pretty damn heartwarming.
  • Edit – added later: I also found out I liked bourbon. That was pretty neat! (Which would be a good pun, but I really like it better with ice in it.)

So… I don’t know. In some ways, it was a great year, but it has also been challenging—and not always in a good way. I’m dealing with a lot of guilt around making the wrong call, with the job I took, and around the financial and logistical implications of my choice. (Dale’s being so ridiculously supportive, you don’t even know.) Between you and me, dear reader, I’m also spending a lot of time navel-gazing about my career, wondering whether I have made “a wrong call” or “The Wrong Call,” and trying to determine what my best next move will be… a thought process which shifts every time Dale or I get a call back from a different city. So I’m feeling a little melancholy as I write this, yes, but I can’t deny there have been some serious wins, either.

Having no idea what my year will look like, and having had so little success meeting last year’s goals, I’m just not feeling the whole resolution thing. I ought to make a commitment to take better care of myself — get regular gentle exercise, manage my stress, sleep enough, and avoid foods that make me ill — because that’s important for managing my illness. I’ll make some kind of reading goal in Goodreads, but I’ll keep it reasonable again, this year. I may redouble my efforts to practice gratitude (which is my particular way of trying to be more positive), maybe using the Happier app daily. I will, of course, find a job, hopefully one that lets me balance my drive and motivation to succeed against my own wellness needs and my plethora of hobbies.


You know what’s more fun than resolutions? Photos! Here’s a pretty random smattering of photos from my phone—a far better representation of my year than Facebook’s attempt:

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