2017 was, on reflection, one of the most tumultuous and scary years I can remember in my life. A quick recap before we talk about 2018.
Move from Seattle to a flea infested pit in Santa Monica (If you're looking for a place to NOT live, add AO Apartments to the top of your list), then down the street to a lovely but tiny place with some excellent neighbors, a ton of charm, and not much space.
We saw the fabric of real representation in our country further unravel. I don't need to dig in, but it could be an essay all on its own.
I passed on a job in London that had its own red flags and risks to take a job with a Hollywood owned software development group in Marina del Rey that, while full of amazing and talented people, I was already realizing was not the place for me.
We sold our house of 20 years at the height of the market - which was great - but we're still working through the emotional complexity of selling a house we lived in for almost two decades, and now, at the end of 2018, we live about 3 miles away from.
We started our journey to learn all things Disney, and it was a lot of fun.
There was a lot of other things going on, but the sheer work, stress, and anxiety wrapped up in those top three, combined with helping a then 1 year old becoming 2, learning how to human, how to talk, and how to be part of our family, and it was, in short, a crazy, educational, and emotionally exhausting year.
I started the year having hard conversations with my new boss about my job, already quietly doing a back channel job search with a few specific companies of interest, but ultimately decided to only interview with one at the time - it didn't work out, for which I'm grateful. We moved yet again, this time 30 minutes down the coast to Redondo Beach, ticking off a bucket list item for me - the wanna be surfer boy - by living three short blocks down to a gorgeous and usually very quiet stretch of beach, Topaz.
I was making some good friends, some of whom I expect will turn into lifelong friends, we were getting a lot of exercise, between going to Disneyland almost every week (let's hear it for getting your money's worth out of an Annual Pass), and learning how to boogie board. Our cooking was still doing well - our kitchen may have been early 1980's chic, but it was functional, and we had a nice deck where I could grill regularly. And the Torrance Certified Farmer's Market was a thing of beauty. Other than the beach and Disney, that's one of the places I miss most from our time there.
By June, I was pretty much done with my job. I had - pretty willingly - allowed myself to be relegated to a side project that had some interesting potential but I was fairly confident had limited prospects just due to the highly speculative nature of the hardware involved, and many other personal concerns that don't need to be aired here. I worked closely with my main peer to advise, vent, be a shoulder as much as I could, and be a sounding board, while working on my own exit plan. The main question was: where to go? We were pretty sure we didn’t want to stay in Los Angeles, so that left, given our preferences for cities, Seattle, Portland, maybe San Francisco if someone wanted to dump a bucket of money on us so we could afford to live there, or more likely, overseas. I considered Maryland for a studio I've often thought of talking to - it would have been great to be easy driving distance to my brother, but before I could move on much of anything else, a friend in Seattle reached out about something of major interest to me. It was a departure - for the first time in 20 years, I would no longer be building games or entertainment focused software. Instead, I'd be enabling a few million content creators worldwide to bring their imaginations to life by instead focusing on deep graphics and rendering research and development with an amazing, talented multi-national team.
After two months of fairly involved interviews, discussions, and a final onsite back in our old stomping grounds of Bellevue, Washington, we found ourselves prepping for yet another move: first to temporary housing , while we searched for long term housing. We ended up in a gorgeous little rental condo on the 21st floor, just about 4 blocks from Mini Going Smaller's pre-school, and 5 blocks from where my office was. I'll be doing my first visit to offices in Denmark and France for my new job in January 2019, and am very excited. Especially since it will help me research for an entire family visit to one or both as well!
We managed to time our drive back to Seattle "perfectly", meaning that we had to divert off of I-5 on day two of our drive to avoid the wildfires that had shut the free down for almost 15 miles, just about 40 miles north of Redding. Thankfully, due to a lucky guess, and Waze, we ended up taking an earlier, less known route to get around the first. This was especially good because about halfway through the detour, we came to a four way stop sign, two lane roads in all four directions, so no passing, and not much in the way of shoulder anywhere. We ended up getting through the intersection in 10 minutes. But the "main" route had southbound traffic stretching a little over 20 miles north of that intersection - literally at a standstill. I can only assume the north bound traffic on the "main" route was just as bad. As it was, two full days in the car and questionable roadside food had its impact on our intrepid three year old culminating in pulling over rapidly on an uphill slope about 10 miles away from the Oregon border, in approximately 100 degree heat, so he could answer the very urgent call of nature in probably the least enjoyable locale I could readily imagine. I do hope no one else pulled over in that exact spot for a few days.
As I'm not actually trying to write a book, I'll end this with a recap of 2018 and how we're starting 2019:
We moved two more times (three if you include the corporate housing). We're settled in a small but very comfortable condo in the heart of Bellevue, and while we'd love more space, we're perfectly content for now.
I'm working for a very talented, focused company that has some amazing prospects in the years ahead, and no matter what's in store for me, I'm learning a ton, will get to do some incredible travel, and expand my own experience in a bunch of new areas.
The other half of the adults in Going Smaller got an early holiday gift in the form of a special form of consulting gig that, unlike many in the region, doesn't require the consultant to take a break every 18 months. So she'll having a long term gig, also learning a bunch of new stuff, working with some great people, with the flexibility she really looks and hopes for when consulting.
The youngest is happy, learning how to human, and learning how to play - we had Christmas Eve at the house of some family of mine, and he and another boy about 5 days older than him, after 30 minutes of hesitant play, turned into a giant 3 year old weasel ball of giggling and laughter until dinner. He's also now substantially more fluent in Mandarin Chinese than either of his parents - something we'll both be working on for 2019.
Going Smaller (collectively) is finally hitting the gym again after 8 months of on again / off again access and commitment to staying healthy, so we can be here with the youngest for as long as possible, and continue to explore our world with him.
We saw an election that, while not perfect, and still riddled with evidence of gerrymandering and manipulation gave us some hope that maybe we can pull back from the brink of chaos we felt like we were teetering on.
2019 holds a lot of promise, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of potential. We'll be making the best of it. We'll also be trying to post a little more regularly! Much love, peace, and happiness to you all, and to all, a good year.