I still haven’t yet finished my 2019 annual review. Life was so busy in January and February that it just got away from me. Then, well, we all know how the rest of the year went. To be honest, I hope to publish the 2019 report soon; it was a big year and I would love for it to be documented for myself to look back on in the future.
For my previous reports, I’ve gone all out with numbers and analysis, this year I just want to share some memorable moments.
January saw me get into work and really start to feel at home, I hung out with my friends a lot, went skiing in Squaw Valley, and flew to Los Angeles to see Coldplay with Justin.
My parents visited in February and saw my new home. We visited Monterey, Santa Cruz, the Marin Headland, and Sausalito. I took them to Caffe Macs Infinite Loop, and we went skiing in Telluride. I also attended the premiere screening of Visible: Out on Television an Apple TV+ original documentary series.
March started with a visit from my cousin and his wife. A few days later was my first day watching the squirrels out the window from my new desk. March was a lot of firsts, a lot of learning, a lot of FaceTime hangouts, and exploration trips to the coast. The world changed every day, and I tried my damned best to keep on top of it.
Professionally, March meant learning to work at home and it also meant the busiest and most full weeks of my working life. Working with my amazing team designing and building the Apple COVID-19 Screening Tool, really was a highlight of my year. Without diving absolutely head first into this project I’m not sure how I would’ve handled the transition that we all had to go through in March.
April kicked off with my birthday, at that stage it felt like lockdown birthdays hadn’t quite been established yet. So I just Webex’d a large number of people and had a really wonderful night. I bought myself a typewriter, and started biking frequently.
In May, I did a lot more biking, and I binge-watched all of Futurama. The lemon tree in my yard started producing what would be a summer of citrus! And rather excitingly, my air-conditioning stopped working right as the first heatwave of the year kicked into full swing.
While I’d been baking all year, and making pizzas and bread like everyone else, May saw me start to try to make more intricate desserts. I continued my year-long quest to make the fluffiest pancakes with a pretty fancy looking strawberry breakfast. I also pulled off making just enough successful macarons to take a photo of them!
With summer in full swing, I spent a lot of time outside in June. June normally has WWDC and I sorely missed it this year, I was very excited for my first as an Apple Engineer. I met up with a few friends for picnics in local parks and baked a lot of cakes and brownies.
In July I saw—and photographed!—the comet, which was pretty great! I also made it a point to walk past the neighbourhood “skeleton house” every day, to see what new scene they had set up. This was something, that at the time, I didn’t realise just how important it was for me. My lemon tree was in full production mode too during July, allowing for friends to come and steal some while we chatted from across the yard. Lastly, I attempted to—and unfortunately never finished, but plan to soon!—make my own arcade-like machine. It got quite far, and I’m really proud of it until I shorted a wire one day and blew a few electronics up.
August was the closest I came to a normal summer during the pandemic, I was extremely lucky and able to visit Lake Tahoe for a week to escape the fires, the politics, the staying and working inside, and really everything. I spent little time on the internet and just enjoyed swimming and hiking, and having a really special time.
I also did some large bike rides, and got a lot of use out my hat that all of Twitter seemed to love!
Of course, everyone in California remembers September for the fires, and in the Bay Area especially for Wednesday the 9th. This was my second large scale “orange” day I really remember (the first was back in 2008 in Sydney), and it was truly surreal and all-encompassing. The light permeated everything, making it truly inescapable. I did briefly go out and shoot some photos in the morning before I realised that likely wasn’t the best idea.
I did also shoot a fun little video as I made lunch that day, to try to capture the moment as best I could.
To be honest, writing this, it feels like October was just another month in which I did weekend bike rides, light night walks, and baked a bunch. And you know what? That’s probably true. I experimented more with pizza and attempted a deep dish, that I think worked out well. I also started exploring wider areas on my bike and lapping up the last of the hot summer nights before they disappeared.
I started off the month by getting deeply invested into Planet Coaster on my fancy new iMac, and of course, I purchased the despondent kiwi bird everyone on Twitter was in love with! It and the contentful duck sit atop my dining table every day. My friend Joe and I went for a hike, which was wonderful, my first Bay Area hike in a year.
In November, I also finally got my Californian driver’s license! Only took almost a year longer than planned thanks to… well… everything. I celebrated by renting a car and exploring the Bay Area to its fullest extent for Thanksgiving week. I went up to Muir Woods, over to the coast, I watched the sun both set and rise from Hawk Hill on Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and I had a most marvellous time.
I hiked a lot of different places that week. And really explored much of the impressiveness of the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a great reminder of why this part of the world, and all its magnificent natural beauty, is so special.
As the year came to a close, I finally decided to purchase a car (my little 2017 VW Golf), I went for more hikes each weekend. And during the holiday break converted my living room into a cosy themed space where I sat for hours on end on FaceTime with all the most important people who I miss dearly. Between the eating and the chatting, I went for walks, rides, and hikes. A fitting encapsulation of the year.
Much has already happened this year, but that is for next year’s annual review! I am in a much better place now mentally than I was during some of the toughest months of last year, but I’ve also changed a lot because of the events. This review, like all my previous ones, overlooked most of the macro-environment in which I live, but if 2020 taught me anything (and it taught me a lot) those macro factors matter a lot. To my friends and family, I love you dearly. And miss you immensely.
2020 was very hard, and 2021 will be too, but I hope that I can celebrate some personal wins throughout it.