This was quite something. Thinking about it and going over last year’s events, I’m not quite sure how all of it ever fit into one year. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a red couch with a piano nearby while the wind is blowing outside, I just had some tea and mini pizzas, and, honestly, this is the best I could wish for.
Last year with a treasure hunt in Tuscan vineyards, and the new one starts with a dog by the fireplace, pretty horses, and cold, sunny days. I buy too much olive oil, wine, and too many cookies, and have significant excess baggage. Spending just enough time at home to do the laundry before heading to Asia for the first time in my life. I travel to Hong Kong for work and stroll through the streets in the mornings and at night, trying to grasp the impressiveness of this place. And then, the view from the hill, these narrow streets, the trees and roots everywhere. Have lots of very good food of which I only remember the taste, and the hope to return one day. Travel onward to a Thai island for a few days right after – it had looked so close on the map, and is still a day’s travel away. I get off a bus very tired and suddenly the air is warm and humid, and the beach is only a minute away. Trying to find a helmet to wear while riding a scooter, and even the largest one I can find sits on top of my head (yes, there are ridiculous photos). I ride a scooter for the first time, have the best pineapple I couldn’t even have dreamed of, almost blow up a gas station, climb through a cave, go snorkeling and see incredibly beautiful fish, get horrible sunburn and have to go swimming wearing my “don’t look for love, look for pizza” shirt, spend days with friends at the beach, in the hammock, and in the inflatable pineapple, floating in the water, looking at the star-strewn sky above.
I get home and immediately want to leave again. I quit my job and accidentally eat heart-shaped pizza on Valentine’s Day. See a Belle and Sebastian concert and visit the the local animal shelter. Other than that, it’s a pretty uneventful month with very bad weather which doesn’t really matter, I have a lot of memories to process and big change ahead.
Spend a lot of time with very good dogs in the park and the forest. Take a trip outside of Berlin and landed in the snow. Realise that, after years of remote work, I don’t own interview-appropriate pants anymore. Meet someone who wants to take a selfie during our first date to commemorate it, in case we last (we don’t). Have my last day at work and start an interview marathon. Rearrange my apartment. We welcome a new dog into a friend’s life.
I celebrate my birthday a few months late, and it’s the most wonderful night with drinks that taste like salt and pineapple, and beautiful friends in one of my favourite neighbourhood bars. I try to find a good dress. Still looking for a new job, I spend a lot of time preparing for interviews, in interviews, on my way home from interviews. My job search takes me to New York, where I have a lot of good pizza, go to my favourite book shop, finally see MoMA and fantastic exhibitions (Adrian Piper was so good, and I walk into a Monet painting, completely flabbergasted), and meet some of my favourite people.
There’s a gentle feeling of spring in the air and, as always, my stay is too short. A dog moves in with me [eventually, he’d only live with me for a little while, and is now thriving and living a very happy life in another home]. I go to a wedding, nervous and exhausted, get to show a favourite person around a favourite place and have ice cream in the place I used to go to every night, and have drinks and Schnitzel on a boat. I finally sleep, for once, wear a beautiful dress and look fabulous while meeting a lot of people I haven’t seen in a very long time. I briefly wave at what could have been, and return feeling so much better. When I get home, my cacti blossom.
Spend two nights by a lake. I’m back to work, and go to San Francisco for a few days for the first time. I’m still trying to understand this place, and how the tech industry has impacted it. I go to SF MoMA, sit by the water for a while, eat a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh yellow cherries, and watch the seagulls. This is the furthest West I’ve ever traveled, and I’m horribly jetlagged for over two weeks.
We sit by the canal very far in the West. Back to riding my bike everywhere I go, and it brings me so much joy. I contemplate moving house and end up not doing it. I attend a dinner with a bunch of lovely women, speak at a D&I panel and meet a few very good people. Enjoying a bunch of late-night bike rides home. Spend a lot of time in the park and by the lake.
We see the blood moon over the water by Berlin Dome. A lovely friend is visiting, and we sit outside over drinks and watch people pass by, and nudge each other when we spot a good dog. Another D&I panel and meeting old acquaintances again. I take a few trains to get to another wedding, enjoy looking out the window and seeing this familiar landscape pass by; spend the weekend in the countryside, meet goats and horses, I wear a suit and my favourite bowtie, dance until the last song, walk home past 5 in the morning, and sleep in a bed that’s too short and too narrow. The stars are brighter than I’ve seen in a long time. On a whim, I buy an inflatable donut. I spend a week working from a lake house with a few friends, we go for swims in lunch breaks, float across the lake, watch the clouds and waterlilies, find a frog, make barbecue in the backyard, and have dinners on the balcony, almost seeing Mars.
I have visitors and get to show them around town; we spend a wonderful weekend together, going out and wandering the parks of Potsdam. I start taking piano lessons again. Spend a few days in New York, meet friends who help me stay awake with pac-man and ghost-shaped dumplings, and another friend and we share a cheese plate. I get myself the most wonderful gift. Another round of apartment rearranging. I get back to a balloon donut and brunch with my best friends and the best dogs. I find the first chestnut this autumn. I find a piano teacher and take my first piano lesson in a very long time, and it’s mind-boggling.
I miss New York and good bagels, and while I can’t bring the city to my home, at least I can make bagels. I go to Hamburg for a night to wander around this city again (it’s been too long) and see Ólafur Arnalds at Elbphilharmonie, which is absolutely phenomenal. Take a train back home and perform my first stand-up comedy bit; needless to say*, I’m killing it. (*Absolutely not needless, I was incredibly nervous and anxious, which is the whole reason I even did this in the first place; but that’s another story for another time.) I see Ólafur Arnalds once more, this time in Berlin. The leaves are turning yellow and we marvel at the trees by the lake. I get sweet treats from a fabulous new bakery in my neighbourhood. Friends host a Halloween party and I get to dress up and turn myself into the Pizza Witch that I’ve always been.
Many walks in the park, as long as there’s daylight. There’s less and less light, and it’s really wearing me out this time. I spend a particularly dark and rainy afternoon in one of my favourite museums in town and probably trying to see three exhibitions in one day was a little too much. Speak at a local meet-up. The sun is out for a few days and I hope it never ends (it does). Go see a musical and end up closing my favourite bar with the staff; have gin truffles for the first time, and it turns out they’re even better when you have them with extra gin on the side.
Spend the weekends with friends. Make a new batch of pizza dough. Go to New York once more, meet up with friends and finally make it out of Manhattan, have a little pizza, buy a few books, go to a social justice holiday market (and it’s as fantastic as it sounds), stand by the water looking at the skyline, and wear the bowtie again. Get home, jetlagged. Spend a few days with friends and dogs in a house in the countryside and it’s marvelous. Learn what it’s like to really fall in love with a dog. I meet calves and watch dogs playing and staring out the window, we go for long walks, make cookies, cook dinners, get milk from a farmer, have homemade gelato for dessert, unfortunately have no panettone, and I finally get to play card games again.
2018 in numbers
(I like numbers)
- Traveled around 82,934 km: returned from Italy, went to Hong Kong, Thailand, New York, Vienna, San Francisco, Stuttgart, two villages by lakes near Berlin, Hamburg, a village by the Baltic Sea, and another village near Denmark,
- spoke at two conferences, one of them my first management conference, hooray!
- wrote not much, really (and as always, I wish it was more),
- posted 540 Tweets,
- way too many Instagram stories,
- took more than 11,033 photos,
- read 21 books, plus 12 Mio. words in Pocket (they say that’s 163 books, whatever that means),
- Bought way too many books. Finally got a book shelf.
- listened to music for a lot (my last.fm counts 14,867 songs),
- went to see live: Belle and Sebastian, Ólafur Arnalds (twice), Welcome to Hell (a musical),
- Quit my job. Found and started another one (yay!!).
- made 68 contributions on GitHub,
- accidentally quit drinking coffee regularly; probably got to around 50 cups over the year,
- Listened to 4,839 songs and over 72,000 hours of music
- The 11 songs I listened to the most this year:
- Keaton Henson – Beekeeper (made it into this list again)
- Blondie – Call me (it’s not a song, it’s a mood)
- Santigold – Disparate Youth
- Portugal. The Man – Feel it still
- Django Django – Marble Skies
- The New Pornographers – The Bleeding Heart Show
- Sequoyah Tiger – Sissi
- Flunk – Only You (Yuleboard Live Version)
- Chromatics – I’m on Fire
- Cosby – Everlong
- Fruit Bats – Humbug Mountain Song
Bits and pieces
- Learnings: Realised how hard it is to make friends as an adult (still working on it, but I got very lucky a few times this year).
- Best decisions: Starting a new job. Not moving house. Taking piano lessons again. Not dating anymore (for now, sigh).
- Endings & beginnings: a bunch.
- Change: Went through some big personal changes, which I’m really excited about. I’m, probably unsurprisingly, turning another year older next year, and still grappling with it; also still thinking a lot about this thread, and what it means to be the age that I am.
- People: many good ones.
- The day I ran out of fucks to give: January 29
Doing more of the things I greatly enjoy and am not doing enough of: Meeting friends, meeting new people, making new friends; protesting; dancing; practicing piano more frequently and learning exciting new pieces; cooking better food for myself; baking more. I’d like more dogs in my life, more nights out, more park time, more good books, more photography, more ice cream, more learning, more floating on lakes, looking up into the sky.
The biggest lesson I learned from my piano practice over the last months is: even on good days, you’ll rarely play perfectly, and that’s okay. But don’t let it keep you, don’t restart – when you fail, what matters most is that you find a way to recover, maybe even with grace (or at least a little dignity), find a way get back on track, and keep going.
And on this note: happy 2019 to you. May it be a good year for you.