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2015 was the best year of my life so far – even more so than 2012.
At the beginning of this year, I lived on a sailboat in NYC and typed code for Google Ideas, but felt the need to push my piano mastery and other other aspects of life forward.
So I left, lived in Thailand with Nicole for three months, sold the boat, rode my motorcycle across North America, and became a concert pianist.
Now, on the first day of 2016, it appears I’m an entirely different person. I live on the opposite coast, in an awesome collective with my partner and loved ones. I’ve attained a degree of sustainability without $DAYJOB, resulting in far greater time-wealth. With this freedom I found greater capacity to code on anything I wished, while also practicing ludicrous amounts of piano.
Here’s a rough breakdown of what I was up to:
Adventures & Travels
- Threw a piano concert/party on a giant riverboat as my farewell from NYC.
- Wrapped up 31C3 with an excellent Berlin adventure.
- Two days of Paris solitude, checking out the impressionists at the Musée d’Orsay.
- On the way back to the US from CDG, I played on a piano which happened to be at my gate, and got upgraded to 1st class.
- Lived in Bangkok for 3 months.
- Learned to Scuba Dive & got PADI certified.
- Dove beautiful spots on Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Lipe, and Panglao.
- Sea turtles!
- RightsCon in Manila, followed by a friend’s awesome birthday party in Panglao.
- Crashed a scooter in the Philippines, then respawned in Hong Kong.
- Amazing poly vacation in Hong Kong / the Mira.
- Two beautiful weeks in Japan with Nicole: Osaka, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Tokyo
- Lovely adventures in Taiwan and Cambodia.
- Checked out all the nifty backstage equipment at a New York Broadway Theater.
- Rode my Ninja 500 across North America. I meandered, seeing art and landmarks of middle america that I otherwise would never see - one of my most worthwhile solo journeys so far this life.
- Skipped Burning Man, but brought a piano to “renoman” which was lovely.
- 3 year anniversary with Mike in Berlin, followed by a day in NYC, then Belgium.
- Distance running in snowy, wintry Chicago.
Music / Creating
- While in Bangkok, I developed a new piano practice routine and spent time with one of the master pianists of Thailand.
- Flower Piano: played two 2-hour solo concerts in Golden Gate Park Botanical Gardens.
- Obtained a 1905 Steinway O - my first grand piano!
- Renewed piano studies with an incredible teacher.
- Was flown across the Atlantic for a piano performance in Belgium.
- Played a fundraiser concert on a beautiful riverboat in NYC.
- Weekly piano performances at UN Plaza.
- Jazz piano comping for Cynthia Lin at PianoFight.
- A little jam session with Kim Boekbinder.
- Private session at Davies Symphony Hall for a well known pianist who was in town to perform with the Symphony that week.
- Made some personal breakthroughs in piano technique and interpretation, especially with Bach and Beethoven, and grew my repertoire considerably.
- Made a personal art project out of my living space at Octagon - the first land-space I’ve had freedom to fully customize.
- Recorded daily 60-second piano improvisations on soundcloud for a time.
Productivity / other work
- OTF Information Controls Senior Fellow, doing research with Vern @ ICSI Berkeley.
- Wrote some code: go-webrtc - which makes WebRTC available in golang for the first time.
- Gave a talk in NYC on Great Cannon / the github DDoS.
- Finally put together this minimum viable blog.
- Started writing long form, for the first time in a long time, to excercise that part of the brain.
- Threw together “riverpixii” - an email bot which send you a scary existential/motivational email about how old you are in days, every morning, which many friends are signed up for.
- Very useful Tor dev meeting.
- Figured out a more personally effective way to organize my todo / done, along with reading, writing, thinking, listening, and viewing lists..
- Found a more productive daily rhythm which allows both lots of piano practice and coding.
Personhood / Responsibility
- Stopped living on a sailboat.
- Moved in to Octagon.
- Attended a wedding for the first time, for a dearly wonderful & beautiful couple.
- Established a daily excercise routine.
- Decided to stop drinking alcohol entirely.
- Decided to skip events like Burning Man, in order to focus on piano practice.
- Kon-mari’d all of my physical posessions.
- Spent Thanksgiving at childhood home, threw away my past, and made peace with that person.
- Resolved all loose ends with medical & tax stuff from last year.
- Started training for marathons with Nicole - farthest distance so far was 15k. Feeling much more energetic since running.
So, here I am, excited for an even better 2016!
San Francisco, Jan 2016
2012: The year I graduated one year early from CMU, moved from Pittsburgh to NYC on a motorcycle, started at my first “Real Job”, paid off all my debts, had my own Chelsea apartment before I could legally drink, cured a long-term medical condition, truly became serene, learned many lessons, gained a lot of privilege, and met many incredible humans.
The increase of personal freedom is always something to celebrate. It provides more space to think about increasing freedom generally.