I’m not going to lie, I’ve not really had a good year since probably 2015 (the year I came out). I’ve lost any sort of optimism about the numerology of the new year representing some step change in the vibes of the universe, and rather have simply started to ossify and harden myself against a relentless world. If there’s a bright side of 2023, it was normal hard and not like, surviving a terror attack or being sued or being turned into a TV character or something. 2023 was just a grind, with no real rest and no real easy moments. It was a year I endured. And I’m glad I went through it and I’m glad it’s gone, even though 2024 will most likely be more of the same. Anyhow, enough pontificating, what all did I get done this year?
With certainty, travel was one of the biggest contributors to my stress. This year I traveled extensively. Some of it was for work, some of it for pleasure, and some was just to try to check countries off my “to visit” list. But I have no regrets. I had some amazing experiences and saw some great places. I saw a bunch of new-to-me countries, experienced art and history and culture, and began to connect to a world outside my usual corners of Charlottesville and Berlin. In total, I visited:
- United States
- Ireland and the Isle of Man
- United Kingdom (all four countries!)
- Switzerland and Liechtenstein
- Italy and Vatican City
- Kosovo and North Macedonia
- Lithuania and Latvia
- and of course, Germany
Is that it? Christ that’s a lot. 49 flights. I lost track of how many nights it was. But it was a lot. Will 2024 be easier? Hah, no. Not with my new role. Speaking of…
So my company is doing a big reorg and that means that I formally stepped in to run the Data & AI Service Line for Thoughtworks Europe. That means that I have all of Europe under my purview and will have to be traveling more frequently to visit our offices in eight countries and clients wherever they may be.
I am loving the challenge but not loving the headaches it can cause. I’m hopeful that things settle down in the new year and I can focus on the part of the job I like the most: serving clients and making them successful.
I did less speaking this year, but I still found my way to events in London, Berlin, Leipzig, Lausanne, Hannover, Athens and Vilnius.
Since moving to Germany, learning is a nonstop endeavor. This year, though, I took it easier on German classes. I think I only did about 100 hours total this year. I’m working towards C1. If I took the test tomorrow I doubt I’d pass. But I think I should be ready for it by mid year, and I’m comfortable with my conversational skills.
I also started doing Coursera and Udemy courses, and finished the first part of a European Business Law course and an AI for Good course. I finished three Azure certifications this year, all fundamentals and therefore pretty easy, but it was nice to know that I do understand the stack at least decently. I received my DP-900, SC-900 and AI-900 certifications.
Art and Culture
I went to a bunch of museums and concerts this year. Highlights among them:
- the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum
- the Rothko exhibition and the National Gallery
- the Cardiff Museum
- Bruce Springsteen in Ferrara
- Shane Smith and the Saints in Virginia Beach
- Highscore at the Berlin Philharmonie
I also bought a Jahreskarte for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and have been visiting a new museum every weekend when I’m in town.
The biggest change this year was the development of new habits for my mental health. Since Elon bought Twitter I’ve stopped using the horrible service. With the time I freed up, I was able to start reading more. I knocked out 49 books this year, including 14 books from my Modern Library project! This was more than double than what I had hoped to accomplish. And I really only started in April. So next year I’m going to set my target at 60 books, with 15 entries from the Modern Library list. Let’s see if I can keep it up.
This has been wonderful for my mental health. One thing I coupled this with was a new habit for keeping my phone out of the bedroom. I’ve also started keeping a paper planner and journaling more. Writing has also been good for my mental health. Speaking of…
My best piece this year was Making God, an 8800+ word indictment of the cult of Silicon Valley. I’m also working on a book on the topic, as well as my Charlottesville memoir. I’m hoping to get them both under contract in 2024. I’ve also published some pieces at work, including a piece on Gen AI governance.
Speaking of writing, I counted recently and I think at least 6 books were published this year that have my name in them. That’s pretty cool.
And that’s a wrap
There’s so much more, but honestly this was a lot already. 19 countries, a dozen museums and concerts, writing projects, and professional success. All the good stuff was earned out through brutally hard work both personally and professionally. But I’m churning, and sooner or later I’ll crest the hill and get some time to coast. Happy New Year, all!