What a Difference a Year Makes

I realize it’s not New Years yet, but the last 365 days have been truly amazing. I had thought the previous year was good, but it pales in comparison. There were hard times and wonderful times and the net result is a change I am so excited about, I needed to share it with the world.

So it’s actually a year and a couple of days now that I am writing this, but it was less than a year on Saturday…Lets get started.

One year ago at the beginning of September, 2012, I had been working for a Boston startup for a couple months and eager to move to the US. I was living in Amsterdam because I still didn’t have a buyer for my apartment there. And in the first few days of September, I found that buyer and he signed his intent to do the deal. He had a few weeks to back out, but I was hoping for the best.

In October, he signed the final papers and I was no longer a resident of the Netherlands. The place was sold well under what I paid invested into the place, but it was done. A few days earlier the movers came and packed my stuff up for the trip across the Atlantic.

At the end of October my stuff had arrived in Boston and waited for customs to sign it through…unfortunately a hurricane stopped by at the same time. Thankfully my stuff at the Port survived, as did everything else in Boston.

By November I was moved in and getting started with being a Bostonite. Things were pretty good. I wasn’t ecstatic about my job and I could see my boss wasn’t ecstatic about me, but I wasn’t sharing that fact with others. I had taken a big loss to get here and wanted to do everything to make it work. At the same time I started acting on the decision to get out there more. My parents helped me with the move and I knew the one thing they would want was to see me not alone.

December rolled in and that means going to San Antonio for Christmas and New Years. I couldn’t take the amount of vacation I had become accustomed to now that I am back in the US, but I had a good time with family nonetheless. Unfortunately, the most wonderful person I had found online and exchanged a few emails with went dark.

That perfect woman came back online in January but I spent much of the month doing a lot of sniffing and sneezing. Ugh, sick. Not too sick to work, but sick enough to hold off on meeting this woman. To make things a bit worse I am seeing that most of the content I am creating at work is never allowed to see the light of day. Frustrating to say the least.

February started really well because the mystery woman wanted to meet. I was still getting off the cold. And I knew within a few weeks I was going to be jobless. Then on the weekend we decided to meet up, the biggest snowstorm in decades decides to visit Boston. Slam! Over 3 feet of snow in one day and the city stopped. Things are not looking good.

Then we met. February 10, 2013. A cold day. A quiet day. Transit was stopped but we both slogged our way to Boston Common. On the steps of the State House, Toni and I said hello and then we walked. And we walked. And we talked and walked. And walked and talked. I think we ended up going 6 or 7 miles. Seriously! Through the Common and the Public Garden for a few laps, down to the Fens, through and round past the MfA, had a bite to eat at Sweet Cheeks, and then walked a little bit more. Things are looking up.

March comes along and one month into this budding relationship we do another massive walk. 12 miles around JP. We loved it. And then she tests me: swing dancing. If you know me, you know dancing is not something I would ever choose…but I do it…and I pass the test. Whew!

With the beginning of March also comes my enrollment in the Startup Institute Boston. I would spend the next 8 weeks getting indoctinated into the tech startup scene here in Boston. I was a newcomer to this market, so having this guided tour would help immensely. A few weeks in and I tell Toni about my situation. I realized this relationship was turning into something significant and stopped the interview process in San Francisco and Seattle. She didn’t run away. We got closer.

April includes a weekend in Vermont and things progress both romantically and in SIB. I am already realizing that I am in the best time of my life. I also hear Matt Barba talk to the SIB group about starting Placester. We have a conversation afterwards. And another. And another.

April of course wasn’t all good. April was also the month of the Boston Marathon. Which is when the bombs went off. April was the month of the massive police action tracking down the suspects of the bombing. April was the month I realized I was scared that Toni might not be alright and I wanted to desperately spend every day with her.

April was the month SIB ended for us. We did our expose and graduated. And a few days before SIB ended for us, I had my offer from Placester: Developer Evangelist. Exactly the title I wanted, and I had a strong feeling that this time I would be allowed to actually do what the role implied.

May was a big month…but then every month since February has been big. We are getting serious about moving in together. We are getting serious about each other. I fly with Toni to Detroit to meet her family. I had no idea families could include so many people. I am almost convinced they hired a few extras to try to scare me, but of course they all love me.

June means I am over a month into my role at Placester. This is amazing. This is a company that respects what I do, values my input, allows me to speak and work with the CEO and the other execs. This is very different from my previous startup experience. I do great things and they are made public. I love my job and I love Toni. The two most important parts of my life are aligned and everything is good.

July…it all continues. Placester continues to be awesome. My role at the company is valued. Toni and I are spending every moment of every day together. She even comes with me to Seattle to meet my parents and my friends and everyone loves her.

August is the month that brings us to a full year. August was the month that made me realize how much had changed. August was the month I felt at peace with so much in my life and the month I move in with Toni.

Our lives have intertwined. Our stuff sits next to each other. We have a very comfortable home in Charlestown and are looking forward to our lives together. And yet we are cherishing every day.

I had an epiphany a few days ago. Much of my life I have regretted the silly decisions I have made: not paying attention in school, procrastinating here and there. Today that regret is all gone. Every decision I made, every delay I had, every step I took brought me an inch closer to Toni and that fateful day on the State House steps.

All regret is gone. What a difference a year makes.

Whats Up With The Cases?

Whats Up With The Cases?

Now that the temperature has dropped to the 20’s and 30’s I tend not to walk to the office. Its a beautiful walk, but the T (the friendlier name for the underground portion of the MBTA, aka the Boston public transportation system) is just so much warmer. I have a short walk past Berklee University to get to the Hynes Convention Center stop of the Green line, then a few stops to my office.

One thing I have noticed is that the iPhone, and to a much lesser degree other brand phones, is a major part of everyone’s commute. I see everyone zone out and get absorbed by whatever is on their personal screen: a game, a video, a book, or the album cover to the current track. That’s ok, I am doing it myself. It’s not like I was going to strike up a conversation with one of these folks anyway. What I find interesting are the cases.

Everyone has a case on their phone. I don’t get it. One of the changes that comes with each generation of iPhone is a decrease in size. The 5 is the smallest of them so far, and yet everyone feels the need to bulk it up with an ugly chunk of plastic and rubber.

Of course the argument I would imagine most of these people have in favor of the case is that its to protect their investment. I guess I understand part of that: this is an expensive device. I paid $399 USD for my iPhone 5 and that’s with a 2 year commitment with Verizon. And if I break it, I will have to pay closer to $600 USD to replace it. The problem with that argument is that these phones are pretty damned strong on their own.

My previous phone was an iPhone 4 (not the 4s, just the 4). I bought it while living in Amsterdam. My employer paid my phone bill, and they wouldn’t cover a switch from the Blackberry to the iDevice (they started allowing it 3 months later). So I bought it outright. At about 800 Euros (about $1050 USD) for a standard iPhone 4 bought outside of a contract for everyone outside of the US, that’s an even bigger investment! But even then a case simply wasn’t necessary.

There is a dent on this corner somewhere...

There is a dent on this corner somewhere…

As I mentioned, these phones are freaking strong. My phone is usually sitting in my left front pocket. Its usually accompanied by a sampling of change and of course my keys. They all jangle round in there and the phone always comes out unscathed. One day while preparing dinner, I dropped my phone…from 4 feet up…onto a concrete floor. There is a single dent which is maybe half a millimeter long on one corner. Usually I can’t even find the dent its so small. I can’t imagine what you would have to do to crack the screen.

The iPhone 5 has all the strength of the 4 and moreso. It’s built like a tank. And with far less glass on the back, there is far less to crack if you manage to find a way to crack it. So I go commando with my phone all the time. But looking at my fellow subway riders, I am definitely the only one.

Bookshelves Are Up!

Yesterday I made a pilgrimage to Ikea to buy the standard Billy bookcases. Feels good to have them assembled and have the books out of the closet where they have been since the move. Now to clean up the excess cardboard and packing strewn across my floor.

Unfortunately, Ikea is not an easy trip for the car-less resident of Boston. Apparently Ikea was going to open a store closer to the city, but then bailed on their plans just a few months ago. I think that decision was insane! With students from Harvard, MIT, BU, BC, and more coming into town each semester, I am sure they could make a killing in the city. But for some reason, they think that Bostonians just like to pay way too much for furniture that isn’t much better than the Ikea standard.

Thankfully a friend was able to give me a ride to and from the store along with all my purchases… Far better than alternative of paying $100 for delivery and waiting 2 weeks when buying online.