Year in Review — 2017

This is my first time writing one of these, bear with me. 2017 was a very different year for me, yet in a way sort of getting back to myself. 2017 was a year where I started doing things for myself again. 2017 requires telling a little about 2016.

I was in a relationship from 2013 until 2016. My first year out of college in 2014–2015 was probably one of the best years of my life. Relationship was happy and healthy, I was learning a lot at Flipboard, growing and branching out as a person and as a programmer. I started contributing to open source and engaging with the android community, becoming a moderator of /r/androiddev.

My girlfriend and I broke up in September 2015. It was her decision, one of those “it’s not you it’s me” things. Then we “tried to make it work” for about another year until late summer of 2016. I don’t know if it was worth it, but I know in that time, I wasn’t happy. I had left Flipboard to work somewhere I used the product, and ended up at Uber. I was on the wrong team at Uber though, where I wasn’t really interested in what I was doing day-to-day. That coupled with the unease of this failing relationship, not knowing what she was going to decide in the end, and pouring all my energy into keeping it afloat. This was a dark time for me, I dropped open source contributions and don’t think I learned much in this time. I can think of specific days I felt motivated. This was my first serious relationship, and I guess I was woefully underprepared and naive for how to handle its end. We’d met in college at a football game, she played soccer, had a sort of dry, bemused sense of humor that I really enjoyed. We both moved to the west coast after graduating (me to the bay area, her to Monterey), so we could still make it work albeit with some distance.

Around April, it became clear things weren’t going to work with my now-ex. We took a break. Something my mother told me when we first broke up was that I needed to learn to start doing things for myself again. I had switched teams to one called Mobile Platform. It should’ve happened sooner, and I only finally talked to the manager of it after a lot of encouragement from coworkers, who saw where I could be successful better than I could. Mobile Platform suited my skillset and interests much better, focusing on serving the internal developer community as a whole and working on a variety of different problem areas. Before fully switching, I took a two week vacation with my family to Spain and Portugal in May 2016, and on this vacation I started working on CatchUp.

When I came back, Google I/O was starting. I didn’t have a ticket to attend, but I did still live in Palo Alto at the time and attended several community happy hours and events. I distinctly remember this being the first week in some time that I felt distinctly happy as a whole.

When I came back to work, we were just beginning to ramp up work on a major rider app rewrite and redesign. A total greenfield effort across the company to build things the right way in a sustainable, scalable way. A huge mound of clay ready to be moulded. I took to this, and ended up driving two significant parts of this project in platform UI and service generation. Platform UI was a collaboration between mobile engineering and design to unify and standardize our design system, with common components, semantic naming, all the tools along the way. These tools would become things like Artist and an internal distributed Style Guide app. Service generation was a code gen pipeline to generate all our network models, API services, endpoints, etc from thrift specs. I was already applying things I’d learned in CatchUp to work with leveraging tools like AutoValue, auto-value-gson, etc. It’s not open source yet, but it’s a project I’m immensely proud of and hope to share publicly in the coming months.

I poured everything I had into these projects and anything else that came along the way, often upwards of 70 hours per week. In some ways it was because I was enjoying the work, in some ways to hide from my feelings of loss with the breakup, and in some to just pour myself into something different. I was starting to see the light in what my mother had told me. I was also doing things that my ex and I had done, but doing them for myself because I enjoyed them, replacing old memories of us with newer, different recent memories. This recency approach is one I’d whole heartedly recommend for anyone trying to move on from something. I traveled to Amsterdam and Austin, both cities where I had strong memories of her, and made new happy memories with friends and coworkers.

Our relationship ended with a flourish at the end of that summer. She was moving to LA for a work opportunity, and that last month together was ironically the happiest we’d been and the most we’d enjoyed each other since before the original breakup. Then, she moved. She also deactivated her Facebook. In a way these were all a sort of blessing in disguise, as it was truly out-of-sight-out-of-mind. I haven’t heard from her in a long time now.

2016 continued, we shipped the new rider app, I engaged further with the android community, becoming an admin of a large slack group and getting to know a lot people from the community within it. I wrote the first version of AutoDispose. I started moving on, and was enjoying life again. 2017 was going to be different, and back to basics.

So I guess now’s the time for 2017.

In 2017 I traveled a lot.

  • I traveled to southeast Asia with my family in January/February. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and a 1 day layover in Seoul.
Siem Reap
  • I traveled to Austin to be a groomsman at my best friend’s wedding.
  • I traveled to Groningen to see my sister graduate.
  • Along the way, I made some stops in Iceland, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck, Zürich, and Bern.
  • I traveled to Austin a second time for a recruiting trip.
  • …and some things haven’t changed
  • I traveled to New York for my first remote conference and saw a bunch of friends.
  • And made some new ones.
  • I traveled to Moscow and gave my first conference talk.
  • …and stopped in London along the way to see Facebook and Google friends. It was also Halloween.
  • I traveled to Portland and experienced a white Christmas with family.

In 2017, I embraced the community more.

  • I attended 5 conferences: Droidcon NY, Droidcon SF, MBLTDev, KotlinConf, and Google I/O. And all the happy hours in between.
  • I attended a bunch of meetups, and the drinks afterward.
  • I saw friends and made new ones

In 2017, life happened.

  • I moved, twice. To the city. Once to Valencia
  • And second time to NOPA
  • I lost my high school track and cross country coach to the Harvey floods in Houston. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but Coach Jordan was a huge part of making me the person I and so many others are today.
  • I attended my first Friendsgiving
  • Some friends moved on, to different paths or different cities. Goodbyes were bittersweet
  • I went on some dates. Some good, some bad. Nothing serious, and just enjoying going through the motions right now. For a time after the breakup, I felt like there was a void there that needed plugging. This was sort of true, but that void was filled with the friendships and experiences that have blossomed within it. This isn’t a story of getting over an ex, but about a richness to life that I’d lost and found. I’m happily single, but will someday also be happily in a new relationship, with the lessons of the the past keeping me buoyant on the road ahead.

In 2017, I expressed myself.

Ball Busters

In 2017, I did things for myself.

But not by myself. There’s a lot of people to thank for making this year what it was. In no particular order, and in no way comprehensive: Mom, Papa, Danique, Robert, Shane, Ty, James, Amu, Luke, Ball Busters, GBFC, Kat, Christina, Destifaleague, “Dessert Club”, Eric Butler, Chris Renke, Nick Firmani, Py, JRod, Danny Roa, Nick Butcher, Florina, the android community, 966 Valencia, Zoe and Ryan, you.

Note: This was originally published on my Medium account, but I've migrated to this personal blog now.