Every year when I sit down to write this post, I think “Next year, I will keep track as I go along so this isn’t so hard!” But then every year I find myself digging through Google Calendar, trying to piece together an overview of what happened. This year’s is a bit delayed, as I was busy waking up in Reykjavik on my birthday last week. So this feels like the real first week of the new year to me.
2016 was one of the more eventful years I’ve had recently, I think. After what felt like a particularly bad year in 2015, when I just really felt like I wasn’t moving forward in any of the ways I wanted to be, I think I was a lot less enthusiastic or optimistic about what I wanted to happen this year, and kept my expectations pretty low. It was still a hard year, but I had a ton of fun surprises.
The biggest fun (and truthfully, sometimes not-so-fun) surprise of all was buying a house in downtown Lancaster! It’s what 2016 is characterized by the most (and seemingly endless sanding and painting), followed by a serious summer travel schedule, mostly due to conferences and Chad flying to the Bay Area to work onsite at his current client’s office.
This is 2016 in bullet points.
Events where I spoke, taught, or organized:
- Two Girl Develop It Philly Intro to HTML/CSS Classes
- New York Code and Design Academy Lunch and Learn
- Helped organize BarCamp again as the volunteer coordinator
- Idea generation workshop at PHLBloggers’ The Blog Connect Conference
- A few local code and coffee events in Lancaster
- I recorded an interview for the Lancaster Newspaper Women in STEM podcast
- ElaConf, which was again maybe my favorite weekend of the year
- Central PA Open Source Conference
- WordCamp US
Conferences I attended (not including those in which I spoke):
- Eating Words, a food writing conference put on by Edible Philly. It was fun to go to a conference outside of the genre I usually attend.
- Google i/o, thanks to an incredible travel grant from Google’s Women Techmakers and Girl Develop It
- Write/Speak/Code — This was undoubtedly the most actionable conference I’ve been to. We basically worked from 9 to 6ish every day, and came away having produced and learned so much. Definitely recommend.
Places I traveled:
- Staycation in Philly (Damn Zika! We were supposed to go to Puerto Rico.) plus a few days at Brush Mountain Lodge in Central PA. It was beautiful.
- Mountain View, CA, for Google i/o, plus an excursion to Santa Cruz and Big Sur! It was so fun to rent a house with my friends and roam around the Google campus on their funny bikes.
- Chapel Hill/Carrboro for Memorial Day
- Chicago for Write/Speak/Code
- Iceland with friends
- Pittsburgh for Abstractions
- Philly all the time for a lot of reasons. I spent a lot of time and money on Amtrak. Also, it’s not a bad drive.
Books I read:
- Most of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gonna finish this one soon.
- Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
- Liars’ Club, Mary Karr
- The Girls, Emma Cline
- The Vacationers, Emma Straub
- Public Parts, Jeff Jarvis
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
- The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer
That’s a longer list than I thought it’d be, and I think I’m still missing some!
Shows I saw:
- Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat 10 Year Anniversary Show in Philly
- Waxahatchee at the Chameleon Club
- Basement show here in Lancaster in a little venue called The Cellar
This was obviously not a stellar year for seeing shows. Too much travel and Lancaster to Philly back and forth, I guess.
Miscellaneous fun stuff:
- We had a series of movie nights with Philly friends.
- My super talented friend Kristen invited me to an Instameet at Longwood Gardens for their Orchid Extravaganza. It was beautiful and a perfect way to spend a frigid winter morning.
- I got to do this fun photoshoot with Maddie, who’s incredibly talented, to help feature her new intimates line.
- We bought a freaking house and moved from Philly to Lancaster. What. Sometimes this still takes me by surprise. Technically Philly featured excerpts of the blog posts that we wrote about why.
- I went from my full time job writing code at Urban Outfitters to part time there, and then fully freelance. It’s exciting and scary, and I’m not sure how long I’ll want to do this versus find a remote employer I love. We’ll see. There are a lot of factors to consider. I’m using COBRA for health insurance, and that will run out late next year.
- Around August/September, I submitted talks to three different conferences’ CFPs. They were all accepted! Which means that I wrote three different talks to give in the space of a month. Not recommended, but a great learning and growing experience for me!
- I took a handlettering class and started feeling more confident with brush pens!
- I canned by myself, unsupervised, for the first time in the kitchen in our house.
- I took a Log Cabin quilting workshop with the Lancaster Modern Quilt Guild! I’ve been wanting to make a quilt forever, and this was a great way to get started with some guidance. Hopefully I can finish it in 2017.
- Some family from Oregon came to PA for a wedding. I hadn’t seen them in maybe 10 years, and it was so fun to hang out!
- I finally coded the redesign of my blog and integrated a portfolio. Still tweaks to be made. Always tweaks to be made.
- I photographed the intimate wedding of a couple of our dearest friends!
- I went to Grace Bonney’s book tour stop in Philly for In The Company of Women. It was just the thing to look forward to, as it happened a couple days after the election and was such an inspiring and supportive crowd.
- I learned how to make a bra with Maddie of Madalynne! My lace doesn’t match up at all (I need to pay more attention when cutting), but the bra itself fits and turned out to be super comfy!
- Above all though, I learned that I can do really, really hard things that I never envisioned myself doing. Without getting into specifics, this has not been fun, and it’s a good reminder that the internet is only everyone’s highlight reel. My life looks pretty spectacular on Instagram, and for the most part, it really is. But few people are advertising the less glamorous parts. Some things aren’t for public consumption. Knowing that you can do really hard things is a hard but incredible fact to learn about yourself, for sure.
It feels like this year was full of miscellany, but I think in this case, the miscellany is life. I’m working through writing and planning some goals for 2017, some of which I’ll share here soon!