Happy New Year!
Welcome to 2008. Later this year I will be 34, given the trends in life expectancy I have lived about 1/3 of my likely time (though as this past year so painfully showed no one can really know how much time they will have as surprises can lurk in countless places). In my time I have done a lot, yet not by far enough. The time seems to be accelerating, passing me by faster and faster without catching my breath or having time to reflect or time to catch up with my personal perceptions to that of reality.
In my mind, it is still the mid-90’s, I am entering college and my whole life looms ahead of me with endless opportunities, in a few years I would have a degree, then most likely another, with a PhD completed (this was my plan) by sometime around my mid-20’s. Not unrealistic as had I graduated with my entering class of college, I would have been 20 at the time of graduation – unable to join in for the Senior Day at the Pub or to take a legal drink on my graduation day.
That did not happen, perhaps that is why in many ways my mind thinks back to that time and those possibilities and still in ways feels it is still those years, that time and those possibilities. Instead, I took a year off, then more, worked odd jobs, spent a year selling Magic the Gathering cards and writing most of two novels (and a play and a few other works). I then started seriously working in technology, going from extremely entry level jobs to more senior consulting work in a fairly rapid and short period of time. In the late 90’s I went back to school and completed most of my classes, but the boom time of the late 90’s tech bubble got to me a bit and I took a consulting job, then a few months later left that to start a company in the beginning ot 2000. A few months later the bust, then a year later, 9/11. From 2000 to the fall of 2005 I made a go of it in Chicago, trying a variety of things, building some cool technology mostly too early for the market.
In the fall of 2005 I had been dating the same woman for a few years, living together with her in my small condo for much of that time but we were both getting tired of living in Chicago. I spent that fall here in the Bay Area subletting a place in Oakland and looking for a more permanent home for us. However to do so, I was also spending a lot of time here and not in Chicago with her. We moved here fully in January of 2006 into an apartment in Berkeley which I had found, and which thankfully I had only signed a 6 month lease on (both because a few months later we broke up and because the apartment turned out to be ant infested, the landlord a bit crazy and moving into the downstairs apartment, and Berkeley was not where I decided I really wanted to live though I am happy that I did live there at least for a little while)
Soon after moving fully here to the Bay Area (which took many flights back and forth, a cross-country moving van, some real money, and a lot of decisions to give away, donate, sell or otherwise not move most of our worldly possessions – I gave away most of my closet of cloths, sold most of our furniture, and chose not to move many things such as my stereo which I had had since before high school or the first and only TV I have ever bought which I had bought the first few days after I bought my condo.
And I put my condo on the market, where it would remain for much of 2006, finally selling late that summer to my great relief.
A few weeks after we had both moved into Berkeley (I had flown out here earlier than my then girlfriend to meet up with the moving van with most of our possessions) we took a long trip together to Oaxaca Mexico. It was a great trip in many ways, but also a bit of the beginning of the end for us. We had been drifting apart in many ways for the past year by that point. Though we lived together our schedules and drifting level of interest had meant that we were not as intimate as we had been at the beginning of our relationship – sure we lived together but we were passing in the night. Sometimes literally as I tend to keep very odd hours (for example as I write this it is 5 am and I have yet to sleep in the new year – not a rare of unusual occurrence for me).
In May of 2006 an event which I had been planning for many months happened, MeshForum and it went off mostly without major hitches (well had to scramble to find a new venue the morning of the last day but that got resolved relatively smoothly). But soon after that my girlfriend and I broke up, though we would live together through the end of our lease that spring. At that time we moved her belongings into storage, moved me to my new apartment in San Francisco, and she left the country to live (and eventually work) in Mexico. So that was my spring of 2006 – lots of moves, finding a new apartment and settling into it.
When I first moved in to my home, where I still live, I had very little, 1400+ books, a few bookcases, the bed we had purchased together for our new west coast life, and that was about it. In the kitchen I lacked silverware and even all that many plates or glasses, I didn’t have any chairs, any tables, any other seating for that matter. Over the summer I started to slowly furnish my new apartment, ordering a dining table, buying bundles of kitchen items off Craigslist.
The end of the summer of 2006 was spent selling my condo, finally.
That fall, at a conference in the east coast, i met my current business partner. We started exploring business ideas and decided to work together.
And, mostly, that brings me to 2007.
There was a lot more happening in 2006, networking events I helped with, lots of people I met (and people I left behind in Chicago) even a few first dates (but no seconds).
But skipping that, to 2007. This past year was for me a busy yet not busy enough year. A year of great possibilities, some accomplishments, lots of new connections and friendships, many great experiences, but not as many successes as I would like.
A few of the things I am pleased about from 2007. On a personal front starting mostly this fall I have started seriously entertaining in my new home. This summer I had my first guests stay with me, this fall I have started having frequent dinner parties.
This means, finally, I am feeling like I am an adult. I have a home which I can be proud of, which does not look like a college dorm room or graduate student housing. A home which is not, perhaps, as finished as I would like, but which is seriously coming together and which can accommodate my enjoyment of hosting friends, of feeding them, of having them over for entertainment. In the past month I have had friends stop by to play games, I have had many large dinner parties (on Christmas Day feeding over 20 people), and just this evening a friend is crashing in my downstairs room so as not to have to drive across the bridge post-NYE.
On the very last day of 2007 I purchased a rug, not a big rug, but one that will help complete my bedroom. A few days earlier I had taken delivery of a nightstand, dresser, and sweater chest. Sure, this sounds somewhat small, but realize for over a year I had been living without any drawers for any of my clothing items (I had everything on shelves in my closet). The effect is that for the most part my bedroom now feels finished. I have multiple nice sets of sheets, a bench at the end of my bed, a really comfy and cool rug, a bookcase full of books, a closet on the verge of being organized (okay, still has a few too many boxes of random crap which need to be sorted and cleared from the closet) but likely by the end of this week in fact even my closet will be put in order – and I’ll try to finish unboxing my books and readjusting the shelves on my bookcase to better accommodate my book collection. I also plan on going through the large pile of books which are unread and deciding which I plan on eventually reading and which I should sell or donate somewhere.
Oh and I really need to get a curtain for my french doors between my bedroom and my dining room, nothing too complex but something which can when I need it give me some privacy.
My office nook only needs a rug and perhaps a standing light to be fairly finished. My dining room is also in pretty good shape, though I eventually want to get a corner storage unit of some form and a nicer wine rack than the old wine box I am currently using.
My entrance hallway needs a standing mirror and in my long hallway I hope to finally hang some artworks – hopefully a few of my own personal photos, as well as some other posters and items from the past few years.
My kitchen is coming together quite well. I have a small table which I purchased earlier this year and really like, my entertaining supplies are strong thanks to a gift earlier this year from my grandmother (who gave me a lot of her old dishes). This past month my sister gave me a very complete collection of baking dishes and I have been expanding my cooking supplies quite well. I anticipate a few additions in 2008 but nothing overly major, probably a food processor and a few more items for entertaining needs (serving spoons and more platters for example).
In 2008 I anticipate my primary home furnishing goal being to finish decorating my downstairs room, a huge space which I want to keep open yet render far more functional than it is at present. This means a lot of storage units to move what are now piles of boxes into more organized files and storage. It also means no longer borrowing an entertainment system from a friend, but finally buying a new stereo and likely a video projector. In the other half of the room I plan on buying some nice and highly multi-purpose tables to play games upon, a small fridge to store drinks downstairs and keep them cold, probably also a small bar, and some rugs to help define the spaces.
So why all that detail.
It is a part of what I see as one of my main personal “resolutions” for 2008 – getting my own personal house in order. Allowing myself to be an adult, no longer live (and think of myself) as still in college. Be the serious adult my age implies I should be (and really mostly am). This likely will take some money, but it also takes effort – going through boxes and throwing out junk, keeping my home cleaned, getting friends to come over and help hang art (possibly also painting some of my walls – my landlord said I could) and otherwise fixing up my home to be even nice, even better than it already it.
I find that if my home is organized, is clean, open and uncluttered it helps my thinking be uncluttered as well.
And, my main goal, beyond the personal benefits of a clean and ordered home, is to end 2008 not how I start it. To end 2008 in the company of a great woman. I know my home would be a really great place to live together with a woman it is more than large enough to have multiple people living here together (a walk in closet, multiple rooms for home offices, enough space that we can be here together yet work apart if we need to, lots of room to entertain). And though I have now furnished it fairly well (I think) there is still plenty of room and space for her touches and items she loves.
To have a great woman in my life there are many other things I have to take care of – staying healthy and getting into better shape, taking care of many other personal matters. As I organize my closet I plan on early this year getting rid of a bunch of things which I have but really should not be wearing (they don’t fit, look awful, are seriously worn etc). Likely this means I should also shop for some new clothes for the first time in a long time – but for the most part that is a good thing.
Professionally 2008 will be a busy and hopefully highly productive year. Business success will make my personal goals a bit easier to achieve (money and income helps) and likewise having my personal life in order, living in a home that helps me be productive can only help make my ventures in 2008 be more successful.
So those are my thoughts and plans as I entered into the new year, a few of them at least. There are many more, thoughts which are racing through my head, hopes I have for friendships which started at the end of 2007, personal and professional goals which I will be working seriously upon in 2008, but these are the things I am thinking about at the moment (and willing to write about in public).
I wish everyone a happy new year and that you take the time, even if only in private, to write down both some reflections on the year(s) of the past and on the year to come, to think about what matters most to you in the new year and to then start thinking about what you could do to achieve those goals.
In my case, it all starts with thinking of myself as an adult – and acting accordingly – in how I live my life, furnish my home, entertain friends, work and play.
Happy New Year.