2021 in Review

This will be my seventh year in a row doing these, so you can also read about the years since 2015 if so desired. They are inspired by Tilde, who has taught me that it can be a Good Thing to remember what the last year has been like. Many of the headers in this post are based on my goals for 2021.

The phrase for this year was restabilize, as I needed to ground myself after 2020. Also, I never really came to terms with switching life course from a jet setting consultant of crisis response into a more stable life 4 years ago. I think I did a swimming job of finally accepting this new life this year.

2021 according to Life Cycle

This is by all means the year I “settled down,” which people used to tell me I would want to do at some point, and I would consistently tell them to fuck right off. I don’t think everyone who moves fast will inevitably slow down, but I sure did.

Met Stated Goals

👶 Keep trying for having a kid

Well, we did it. After a miscarriage early in the year (in addition to the abortion last year), we successfully had a child! (You can ask me for the password if you like reading birth stories.) He came 7 weeks early, so we spent 4 weeks going to the NICU to get skin to skin contact with him while he learned how to be a baby. He’s been home and healthy since, and is finally smiling and showing signs of interactivity. Having 7 extra weeks of nonreactive grub state still causing sleep deprivation was a doozy, and I’m glad to have such an excellent partner to weather the trials with. I can’t imagine doing this on my own or without parental leave. Paid leave for everyone, please. And shout out to all the single parents out there. Gee whiz.

🏡 Buy a house if we find the right one

Reed and I have radically different shopping methods. When I realize I would like something in my life, I go and find one and purchase it for the price it’s at, and then I have it. I can stop thinking about it. Reed researches exhaustively, then waits for the item to come up for cheap or free, sometimes for years. This difference in approach made house hunting difficult. We looked for about 18 months and at something like 80 houses in person. But holding out for the one we ended up with was worth it. We’re mildly embarrassed by how nice it is, the neighborhood is charming, our neighbors are friendly, and I get to wake up to birdsong instead of shouting every morning. We’re a few miles from the Apple shuttle stop, so my commute is reasonable.

💅 Do something of which I am proud at work

I’m coming up on the two year mark at Apple, and it was true what they told me after all – it took a full year for me to be completely onboarded. I project manage 5 teams and one feature (or I did before I went on parental leave, we’ll see what things look like when I get back), and while I’m proud of many of the smaller things done with my teams, the feature I got to work on was discovered by Project Zero and so I can tell you about it: Blastdoor. Not only is this proactive security that was a blast to work on, I think I ran a pretty tidy ship, and learned a bunch while at it. I also did some internal organizing things that were a mixed bag of success and failure, but that I’ve got to keep closer to my chest.

📈 HAVE “IDEAL BEHAVIOR” IN REGARDS TO MY INTOXICANT INTAKE 75% OF EACH MONTH

I missed by one day in one month, but I’m still calling this a win. As I wrote about earlier in the year, doing so was a big deal for me. Biology made this easier than I expected, as for much of my pregnancy even thinking about alcohol was unpleasant. 9 months I was over 90% ideal behavior, and I had no unwanted behavior for the whole year! And please, if you’re going to come at me for low alcohol intake during pregnancy, please have done your research in advance so we can have an actual conversation.

I haven’t been this consistently in alignment with my goals since before I started tracking in 2016. Go team!

Unmet Stated Goals

🚴 RIDE 200 MILES EVERY MONTH I’M NOT PREGNANT

I hit my goal up until I was pregnant. Since getting the go-ahead to work out again I’ve been back on the bike, but not up at this milage. I miss it. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to riding 100+ miles in a day, both because of the time the training takes and also because of the time a ride like that takes. But, someday. I dream about it.

I still took pretty good care of myself, even outside of that.

🧠 Finish a class and start on another one

Way less bicycling meant way less time to listen to audio classes, and sleep deprivation meant it was too hard to focus on online classes. Oh well. I have been doing a lot of crossword puzzles, which is absolutely not the same thing, but has been helping me stretch my brain a bit. And I did restart drawing, doing this drawing for this class, as recommended by Scott.

💸 Donate 10% of my take home pay, or max out matching donations

I did donate more than last year, but still not 10%. Buying a house, having a kid, and replacing a crashed motorcycle is expensive, y’all. So I failed to share outward. Hoping to be able to reach towards this again in the future. What I did get done on a financial front is to audit all of my expenses. For the entire year, I reviewed each purchase and categorized it. This will allow me to be more discerning in the future, and to budget for both internal and external desires.

Other Things

🏗️ Civics

So, when I did international crisis and humanitarian response, I had a lot to think about so far as where to focus my attention. Was I being a “white savior” by assuming my skills were more important to uplift a group than they had the capacity to do on their own? Was that because of who we were as people, or because of our histories, and how could I alleviate the gap in capacity through my involvement, rather than perpetuating it? It was a lot of existential angst, and I think I did ok sometimes and messed up other times. Part of shifting to this new life was wanting to focus on my own back yard, and people I was more clearly in community with.

Now that we’ve moved to a specific place, and we intend on being here for a very long time, I’ve invested in 3 ways:

  1. I set my Shuumi to be yearly, and based on the size and location of our home.
  2. I’m actively seeking out neighbors in structured ways (such as our yearly neighborhood BBQ) as well as informally (bringing treats, meeting up for coffee, etc).
  3. I’ve joined our opt-in neighborhood association. It mostly serves as a way to keep track of what’s going on at a city level and communicate that back to the neighborhood, and visa versa. I’m already being a pesky car-free advocate, and folk seem open to it.

💙 Relationships

I am deeply grateful for and in love with Reed. Raising an infant is so difficult, and we made a point to have each others’ backs and deal with things with as much grace as we could muster. We worked out an arrangement where each of us feels spoiled, which is deeply weird and special.

After 3 or 4 years of dating, the end of SF lockdown was also the end of Tilde and my relationship. We’re still friendly, it just wasn’t working anymore. Things with Alejandro and Estee continue to be lovely. And Jenbot and I got to see each other early in the year, which was so delightful and long overdue.

The pandemic sure did force continued intentionality around relationships of all kinds, including friendships. I’m proud of continuing to foster friendships with folk, especially on this side of the Bay and in this neighborhood; while also maintaining distance friendships. My favorite this year was the “shit talking” Signal group where we had dark humor about the most hopeless moments of dealing with an infant. I love y’all.

My relationships with family have also deepened this year, with my brother and sister in law coming to spend substantial amounts of time supporting us, my sister joining for parts of that, and my parents making two (!) special trips out as well. I’ve gotten closer to my mother in law, too. I sure do feel lucky.

🚄 Travel

I only took 3 trips this year – Seattle to see Jenbot, friends, and family; to Montana to see my entire immediate family; and to Cape Cod to see Reed’s family. We are so lucky in that a week after we got back from Cape Cod is when I went into labor. That could have been a way different time.

🔮 Culture

The most difficult event I’ve ever facilitated was the International Workshop for Misogyny and the Internet while with Berkman, primarily because it was 50ish power-house mostly-women from across the globe who were all HYPER aware of interruption. And as facilitator, part of my job is to interrupt people. But the most difficult event I’ve now organized was from this year, and it is called Redesigning U.S. Originally a way to rewrite the constitution, it turned into an event focused on racial healing and mental health in organizing groups, based on emergent principals from Adrienne Maree Brown. I had to learn to follow the leadership of the fully capable and incredible Azeez Alli-Balogun, Mer Joyce, and Dr. Pierce Otlhogile-Gordon; and advisors Ashoka Finley and Mỹ Tâm H. Nguyễn. I have a lot of thinking to (continue to) do about how to balance the necessarily introspective work of antiracism with the action-oriented organizing I’m more comfortable with.

🏍️ Motorcycles and cars

I had two traumatic things happen this year: an accident and an attempted accident. After picking Reed up from his bike breaking down early in the year, a very aggressive lady hit us with her car, whether intentionally or just by trying to scare us. Either way, we went down, she ran from the scene, and now I have a new motorcycle. A bit of road rash for me and a torn nail for Reed, but otherwise ok. The second incident was far more harrowing, with a person chasing me on the highway for 40 minutes with clear intent to injure or kill me, including trying to back into me when I finally got behind them. If you see people behaving dangerously, and you feel safe doing so, please try to intervene. No one tried to help me, and that shook me up maybe even more than someone trying to kill me.

Quite to our parents’ collective dismay, both incidents have only served to strengthen our commitment to a car-free lifestyle. Cars bring out the worst in people. Please drive safely if you must drive. Be intentional about the role vehicles play in your life, and the impact you have on others by operating a 1+ ton murder machine.

(Please don’t be “that guy” in reaction to my calling this out.)

👨‍🎤 2022

Like 2020, the goal is just to survive — having a brand new baby is less stressful, but more sustained, than crisis response was for me, which overall makes it harder. I’d like to deepen ties to my neighbors and continue to increase my involvement in local things. There is lots of work to be done to make this city a more just and equitable place. I return to work soon, and I’m excited to take my year of onboarding, my partial year of experience, and my parental leave of contextualization to bring to bear on future years.

Goals for 2022:

  • Take on a new challenge at work: I think we’ve figured out where I’m naturally a good fit, but now I’d like to find new ways to help projects along.
  • Re-establish a physical activity regime: that was a long time of not being regularly physical. I’ve got a long way to go (and far fewer resources) to feel comfortable in my body again.
  • Take care of my part of the house and childcare without prompting: Reed takes on the lion’s share of household maintenance etc – I should be doing my parts without needing to be managed.
  • Be intentional about my finances: continue to track my finances; discern a reasonable goal for giving, and give that in 2022; and do so proactively, rather than reacting to whatever the topic of the moment is.
  • Continue to moderate my intoxicant intake: keep intoxicant intake at 2% or lower for “unwanted” for the entire year, and 75% or more of “ideal behavior” per month – likely to be much harder in 2022 as biology won’t be on my side, and I’m doing a hard thing. I’ve made the intentional choice to loosen what “ideal” means a bit for the year.
  • Be a good steward of the land I’m now partially responsible for: whether by xeriscaping, or removing invasive vines on the creek bank, do something that recognizes that I’m responsible for this land. At least water the jade plants sometimes.
  • Be a good neighbor: take an active role in my communities, including as a follower.

Shout out to Travis Goodspeed — my word for 2022 is neighborliness. I want to be a good neighbor to my geographic, work, philosophical, and just outright conceptual neighbors.

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