On practice (and perfect)

Six months ago, I had my first piano lesson. That’s the easiest way to put it.

The much truer, and, as always with that, more complicated version of the one sentence above is: I’ve been wanting to play the piano for a very long time: at first, mostly because I found the instrument beautiful, in the same way that I still think the cello is beautiful. My best friend as a kid was learning the piano, and I still remember this one afternoon in her parents’ living room, standing behind her on cork flooring, looking over her right should as she played Für Elise. I didn’t listen to much piano music back then; whenever I did, it was on the old radio in the bathroom with the tinny sound, on the station for classical music, and I found the sound of piano music strangely cold. And yet, I was fascinated by it, but it was far outside of my reach. Fast-forward many years, to the 2000s, the rise of digital pianos, and my first job after my apprenticeship. My first piano lesson was in 2009. After this first lesson, I left the country (no causation), but I accidentally kept the piano teacher’s book and lost his phone number (in case you’re reading this: I’m sorry). A while after, I moved again, and became part of a band that had a great piano player, who played so well that it seemed like I could never get to this level. In 2015, I picked up piano lessons again, with a great teacher. After three lessons, I quit my job and couldn’t afford the lessons anymore. In 2016, while standing on a terrace late one night, my band mate (the piano player) and I confessed to each other that we needed to break up the band. In the summer of 2018, I made a digital floor plan of my apartment, moved some furniture around in it, and accidentally dropped a piano on my living room floor plan (I still disagree with the categorisation of a piano as furniture). At the same time, I was working later, and had more time in my mornings that I was looking to fill with things that brought me joy. Before I met my teacher and his piano for the first time, I told him the story above, and he responded: “Well, let’s see what we can do for you to stick with it this time.” And then he told me, “I don’t teach people to become concert pianists.” This is why—

Six months ago, I had my first piano lesson.

Now I have a piano sitting in my living room. It’s a digital piano, with pretty wooden keys and a headphone port, which is one of its most important features for me (and my neighbours). It’s big— as it turns out, that’s what happens when you design an instrument with 88 keys which need to be wide enough that you can hit each of them with an adult-size finger. The room it sits in is not big. In this room with furniture in light colours, it sits there, all black, with a black chair half under it. Nothing one would overlook. I pass it multiple times every day. There are many days when I pass it without sitting down and playing, even once, even briefly. On some of these days, as I walk past it, I think it’s staring at me. With judgement.

Whenever I do sit down and play, I keep thinking practice makes perfect. It’s one of the first English phrases I learned, I don’t even know how I picked it up. We have a similar expression in German, Übung macht den Meisterpractice makes the master (though unnecessarily male-gendered in German). Eventually, lots of practice will make perfect. Lots and lots and lots of practice; that’s the hope, that’s the dream.—And then I sit there, again chewing on this one piece that I’ve already been working on for three months, and it’s still not perfect. Far from it, even. On some days, it even feels like it just gets worse over time. Not enough practice, not even getting close to perfect.

The spirit of practice makes perfect is that, to improve a skill, one must practice—but this also makes the idea behind the phrase quite different from the literal meaning. Perfect is, even as a decidedly aspirational goal, so far out of reach for me. Perfect: as good as it is possible to be, entirely without fault or defect. Wich translates to: humanely impossible. If this was a landscape, perfect wouldn’t even be on my horizon; perfect would be long gone, far gone, behind the horizon, on a tiny pony, riding off into the sunset, with only a dust cloud left behind.

It took me the last months to understand that none of what I’m doing is about perfect. What it is about instead is:

Learning about muscle memory, and how to trust my instincts, my senses, of where to hit which key at what point in time. Reading notes in the base clef like they’re a foreign language; trying to stop translating each and every one of them in my head. It’s about learning how to name chords again, and how to make good guesses (and how to cheat). It’s about grasping that thirty percent of the way to playing well, is knowing which keys not to hit.

This is about learning that some musical styles are very difficult for me to even practice; admitting that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around them; and taking, embracing them, as learning opportunities. It’s about being humble, and knowing that I can only learn when I understand, admit, and ask about what I don’t know.

It’s about being gentle with myself, and keeping my wish to be good at what I do in check. Often, this means walking past the piano in the morning, awake and ready to work, and once more at night, tired, after a long and good work day, the only keys I touched being those of my keyboard; accepting that that’s where my life is at. It’s about writing down fingering for an entire piece one night, and realising the next morning that I mixed the finger numbers up. Again.

It’s about reminding myself that I always go too fast, and learning to pace myself, even though it’s hard. It’s about sitting down and playing this same piece again that I’ve been working on for months; and about the same three bars in Chilly Gonzales’ version of Shake it off, which I keep stumbling across like pebbles in the street. It’s about taking 37 attempts to play saman by Ólafur Arnalds and make a video recording of it on my phone, one that I’m sufficiently okay with that I share it on Instagram. It’s about 28 attempts at recording a beginner’s version of Ludovico Einaudi’s Primavera, and it’s about this point halfway through the piece where moves through a Crescendo and it gets really intense and loud and I get really excited and emotional and the piano vibrates and it’s about the eight attempts during which the phone crashes onto the floor; always at the exact same bar.

It’s also about the times when my teacher and I decide to start the lesson late and instead sit together outside the small cafe in the sun with black tea and coffee and we don’t talk about music, but about the latest neighbourhood gossip.

It’s also about learning that, when I’m working with this instrument that’s much heavier than I am, the way I conduct myself in relation to it matters: how I arrange the chair and sit on it; whether I pull up or lower my shoulders, how I use my arms and hands. Learning how to play this one bar without feeling like my hand is falling apart; and that the feeling of my hands falling apart will only very slowly fade. All of this is also about, five months in, realising that, all of a sudden, my hand span has increased from 10 to 11 white keys. This is also about breathing: learning that I tend to hold my breath when I’m very focused; and that holding my breath makes my body tense; and that this body tension gives me pain. It’s about learning to relax while focusing.

Now, every time I sit down again, and I still think, practice makes perfect. But then I think of all the above – and I remember what my teacher said about not training concert pianists.

It’s not about practice makes perfect. It’s about sitting down and putting in the time, and none of this is about perfect.

All of it is about practice.

Twenty-Eighteen

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.

And, in good old tradition (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017): here goes. —


The months

January

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April, May

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.

June

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.

July

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.

August

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.

September

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.

October

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.

November

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.

December

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

2019

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.

Berlin, Winter (October 2017-February 2018)

There’s always this one day in the year when it shifts, the day when all of a sudden, the subway station is warmer than the outdoors again. That’s when you know.

This is the fifth month of winter. There’s not enough sun for all the sad people here anymore.

We try to stay close to keep each other warm. The wind is too harsh and we keep drifting apart, except for the times when the storm hits harder than usual and the rain is so strong that we have to stand closely under the supermarket roof, looking out to water smashing down from the sky, feeling each other’s elbows in our sides and smelling each other’s scents, waiting for the rain to stop, while the slushy machine that’s on all year keeps slushing ice to the sound of Radical Face: Welcome Home.

Oh, the rain. It’s always the rain. It makes the bushes in the back yard below my apartment look like palm trees, it makes my hands cold and my body shiver and the water run through my hair and drip onto my face and first it wets my glasses, then it makes them foggy every time I enter a warmer place. Clear vision is a rarity these days. I have to remind myself to blink from time to time, as a means to make sense of the world right now. As a means to remember the world as it is right now. Because what the world is, is something that makes me want to run, and not run in the good ways like I did in early autumn, when I’d sprint to catch the traffic lights and go for park runs and play catch with the tiniest dog in the world. This is a time when I want to run and hide, or, better, sit on a train and ride it until Endstation, last stop, and stay there forever.

Recently, I read a story of a microwave and two people who are forever stuck in almost kissing, and it reminds me of you. I walk around the corners, blocks, I leave my thoughts in the streets. I spend an entire walk thinking about the cultural implications of house shoes. Little children mostly treat me as a roadblock, and I appreciate the grand gesture in their pure avoidance. I’m counting my steps. I like counting things: steps, stairs, doors, corners, windows, holes in ceilings, books in shelves, pictures on walls, tiles in bathrooms. Most of the time, I’ll only notice that I’m counting again when my head is already beyond ten. A bunch of dried flowers lie on the step in front of the antique book shop. And as, for once, the sun comes out, the day goes by and it’s about to set again, I just stop and stare, stare at the sunset as if it was holding any answers. Outside of a shop, big wreaths are standing outside, and flower arrangements of red roses, the kinds that come with their own stands and backdrops of evergreen and bows to hold them together. CONGRATULATIONS, one says. A big sign above the door reads NOW OPEN. A man walks out of the shop, he has a beard and a melancholic look on his face and as I look at it all, I want to cry over the beauty of life.

I stand on a platform, waiting for a train to the airport, and someone is wearing your perfume (I can smell it over the crowd). As I get on the packed train, I sit across from someone, and without any conversation, we arrange for each other to have as much room as we possibly can, to ensure we’re both comfortable in between it all. After the arrangements are done, for the first time, we briefly look each other in the eyes and nod in respectful acknowledgement, and for the fraction of a second, I feel genuine human connection.

The train stops, I see a woman on the opposite platform. She’s wearing a green coat and bites into a peach, leaning forward. The peach juice drops on the ground. A plane from Munich arrives and nobody is waiting for anyone on it. At a different gate, a woman is waiting. She’s tall, with curly brown hair, and bursting with joy. In one hand, she’s holding a long red rose wrapped in foil; in the other, she has a huge white poster, WELCOME HOME written on it with permanent marker, in giant letters full of impatience and anticipation. She has the excitement of the world written onto her face, and as I look at her, my heart feels like it will just burst with love. The plane I’m on is packed, and the person next to me has broad shoulders. I spend the flight thinking about the radiation of the warmth of the almost-touch of another person.

Sometimes I look at fellow passengers on the subway and imagine what their lives will look like in fifty years. On a Friday morning and another train, I look down on my phone to adjust the music, as I hear someone say my name, question mark. I look up and it’s G., we haven’t met in years, again, and how come it never feels like years, but always is years, and how come that G. is one of these people with whom you just know, know that together, you could’ve been something, but you never were and never will be, and there’s the biggest sadness and sweetness in it. It’s the brutal beauty of subjunctive.

It’s a Sunday morning, and as I walk home at 5am, the snow is falling on my face and rests on my hair. The night is sweet and fading away like the taste of vanilla ice cream and I stay in the street, watching the snow flakes hit the ground and slowly melt away.

Hold on, love. It’s too soon to wake up.

My Twenty-Sixteen

For many, 2016 (or some events in the year) was devastating, and a trash fire of a year – a year of war, terror, death, violence, loss, power shifts and major political events. (Shout-out to the Me at the beginning at 2016 vs me at the end of 2016meme. And because good news are good to hear sometimes – here’s the list of good things that happened in 2016; and the great doggos and puppers of 2016; all of which still feels like a poor consolation though.) And with much of what just started in 2016, the future doesn’t look particularly bright at the moment. For many, it is outright terrifying, and very, very understandably so.

So what’s below is only a very personal look back at the year that was 2016 – by month, with some numbers (I love numbers), my learnings and some thoughts about what may come in my life next year.


January

Not going to say anything about this month.

February

I draw a flowchart about Codes of Conduct. Write about how to prepare for tech conference talks. Get to do fun photo shootings with wonderful people. Jan and I give an interview for an article about ethics in software development. Do my first embroidery project. Meet someone again who will become one of the most important persons in my life. Meet someone else without whom I wouldn’t be where I am now.

March

More cool photo shootings with great people. Boardgames night. Get a chance to reconnect with a wonderful friend. Do my last embroidery project.

April

See Hans Zimmer (and many more musicians) live. Suddenly job interviews. The infamous Boardgames nights continue.

May

Regret life choices. Travel to Hungary and close JSConf Budapest (and @rajsaamjulia made a super cool Sketchnote). Say some things that make rounds on the internets.

Participate in a research project with the goal of finding out how many people can be squeezed into a tiny cabin with a built-in camera. Travel to Manchester for Upfront Conf. Travel to Oslo for CSSConf Nordic and dig out some the first photos I ever took before flying out. Spend some time with great people on a boat. Get sunburnt. Climb a horse statue.

June

Get back from Oslo. Start the new job. Had possibly the most intense 48 hours of my life.

July

Have a lovely house guest and we have pizza together. Play Pokémon Go for 3 weeks. See a rainbow right when I need it. Figure out how to do business the right way.

August

Get a haircut. Get a tattoo. Have an important appointment that I should’ve had 15 years ago. Start a big new personal project. Manage to get into pouring rain (without umbrella) six times on one day. Do a short trip to Copenhagen and Malmö and have all the coffee.

September

Give a talk about mental health. See fireworks. Get glasses. Start something that would eventually become a wonderful tradition. Leave the amazing group blog Kleinerdrei.org, which is edited by a bunch of wonderful people I learned so much from in my time with them. Upgrade to the next version, together with many marvelous friends. Participate in a panel on public speaking.

October

Computer breaks down. The Friday Coffee. Having TONS of fun with Visa. Company Offsite. Get to go horseback riding again, for the first time after 13 years. Meet the Seal of Disapproval@Saltinejustine and I give a talk about Selfies and it is fab.

November

Have good-bye drinks that are literally on fire. Travel to Australia, which makes this trip the 4th time ever for me to leave Europe. Meet many lovely friends again. Get to close JSConf Australia, get off the adrenaline rollercoaster, and have an excellent time in Melbourne. Have too much coffee.

December

I find myself. Fail at taking a Wombat back home. Wrap up work for the year. Go to Finnland. Have a Christmas weekend that was less bad than expected. And I go south. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting under an olive tree.


Summary

  • Traveled around 49,152 km: to Budapest, Manchester, Oslo, Copenhagen/Malmö, Melbourne, Helsinki, and a couple other places;
  • spoke at five conferences, of which I got to close four and open one;
  • wrote 12 blog posts,
  • made 217 contributions on GitHub (I’m really not sure why I keep this number in these lists),
  • posted 2,138 Tweets,
  • took more than 5,786 photos,
  • read ~106 books (of which 98 are an estimate based on what I read in Pocket),
  • listened to music for more than 22 days (it was a year of great music),
  • went to 6 concerts,
  • started a new job,
  • and had around 400+ cups of coffee. (Possibly highly inaccurate number.)


 2016, the bigger picture

  • Learnings: It was the year in which I learned about the meaning of being there, and the meaning of having people who are there. Professionally, it was the year in which I learned more about leadership, time management, self-organisation, and, again, my limitations.
  • Endings/BeginningsLike 2015, it was another year in which many things came to an end; some of which left huge holes in my life, and I haven’t come to terms with all of them yet. But, unlike last year, it was also a year for me in which some new opportunities came around, and some things started.
  • Life events: For me, 2016 was one of the most intense years I’ve ever had – by sheer quantity of events, and by what each of these events brought – the work, the emotions, the impact, the consequences. It was often draining, tough, sometimes existential, and often very scary. And even though time is a construct, right now, I’m not sad that there’s at least a chance for a mental shift.
  • Change: Not so much changed on the visible side of things. Very much change happened in other places. Every bit, every tiny step towards this change was a lot of work, and cost a lot of energy. I’m not there with everything yet, but I got to a point now where I see how far I’ve come; and to a point where, finally, there’s no way back.
  • People – I got to meet many incredible people who are just fantastic humans. Made a bunch of new friends, strengthened a few existing friendships, and had many wonderful conversations with these people who all  helped me learn so much, and understand so much more. So much gratitude, so much <3.
  • Bits and pieces: It was also the year in which I finally outgrew the last bits of red hair. The year in which a significant number of people from my past came back (and all around the same time). The year of too much coffee, the year in which places became home and people became friends.


There are a few things regarding 2017 that I know for certain – as far as certainty can go –, and there are some possibilities, some ideas. As far as as all these are concerned, it could be an ~interesting~ year (and by interesting, I mean: very uncertain, very unclear, likely challenging, demanding, intense; and, in parts, also scary af). It will be a year of more learning, much more work on myself, and, hopefully, a year of growth.

Things I want to do in 2017

  • Grow. – As a person, as a friend, and in my work.
  • Nourish friendships.Because people matter.
  • Support others.
  • Speak less. Give less conference talks.
  • Write more. – I want to publish 7 posts on work-/activism-related topics, and write at least one short story per month. A few months back, I restarted keeping personal and professional journals, and want to keep that habit.
  • Read more books. – I read very few actual books this year, and the equivalent of ~98 books in Pocket, most of which was work-related though. Ever since I learned to read, books have always been a great source of comfort, knowledge, wisdom for me, and literally opened up new worlds to me. I got back to reading books a while ago, and want to read more fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
  • Improve my English. – It still frustrates me how limited my English vocabulary is, and how this narrows my ability to write well, describe observations accurately, and express myself. I hope that reading more, especially fiction and poetry, will help with that.
  • Get back to making music. – Miss it too much.
  • Travel less frequently. – I’ll limit the number of my travels significantly, at least until autumn 2017.
  • Give less fucks, but also not. – Started that this year, and it’s been a decent strategy so far.
  • Figure out some things.
  • Love more. – Because.

Quem me acode à cabeça e ao coração neste fim de ano, entre alegria e dor? Que sonho, que mistério, que oração? Amor.

(Who touches my head and my heart at the end of this year, between joy and pain? What dream, what mystery, what prayer? Love.)

– Carlos Drummond de Andrade

We’ll see each other in 2017.


Earlier20102011201220132014, 2015