"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." - Charles Dickens
What a crazy year it's been. Coming face-to-face with climate change, a global pandemic that exposed the worst in people, police brutality, and an election rooted in hate and fear instead of policies and hope. I feel lucky to be coming out the other end of it with a job, my health, and a little optimism.
I quit my job at The Knot after only a few months. My priorities of caring for my family seemed at odds with their expectation and it lead to a lot of unhappiness on both sides. I appreciate the friends I made there (shoutout to Joe).
Sometimes things don't work out, and that's okay. I'm proud of acknowledging that and moving forward.
I don't even remember this month because of what followed.
On March 6, I took my mom into Manhattan to be seen by a neurology expert at Weill Cornell. While riding the subway, she looked weak and had a cough - neither were symptoms of the condition that inspired the hospital visit. I remember on our return trip, she could barely sit upright. Two days later, she could hardly breathe and saw a doctor. This was before Covid had "arrived" like viruses have some sort of reservation booked...but its safe to assume that's what was attacking her lungs. It took two rounds of steroids and 17 days before she began to feel better.
During those weeks, lockdown happened. Covid pummeled New York City like Jadeveon Clowney tackled Vincent Smith. All we heard outside our Brooklyn apartment was the constant cries of ambulance sirens. I had panic attacks regularly. A living nightmare.
As the sirens continued, my friend, Alex Iskold, shared a tweet about getting help to families directly impacted by the pandemic. Alex has mentored me through the years and so I told him I'd donate my talents towards this idea. A week later, The $1K Project was born. To date, we've enabled over $3,000,000 to be given directly to families across the United States. It's the project I'm most proud of in my career.
May and June
These months are a blur. Natalia, Theo, and I remained quarantined. At some point here I finally felt safe enough to give my mom a hug. She cried. I cried too. Humans aren't meant to be cut off from the rest of the world.
Natalia returned to work in July and life began to look more normal. We left our apartment a few times to walk Theo and were finally able to visit Jed, Natalia's grandfather.
In late July, I decided to make the jump back into early-stage startups. This time, joining an old friend as his first employee. More on this when we launch ;-)
I wrapped up a big freelance project I had the privilege of working on with Michael Bloch and the Pillar team. To date, they've been my favorite client and that's only partially due to including me in Geoguesser games.
The brightest spot in my year happened on August 28th. Thirteen years ago I visited New York for the first time as part of a class trip. During the tourist loop, I was captivated by the Gapstow Bridge in Central Park. I turned to my teacher at the time and said, "If I ever get married, I'm going to ask her on that bridge." Fast forward to this year when, in front of that very bridge, I asked Natalia to marry me.
In the weeks following the proposal, I turned my attention to my health. I found a wonderful primary care doctor and began to see a therapist. While I recognize not everybody can afford it, if you can, I highly encourage therapy. It's already begun to help.
October and November
These months were spent working on the new startup. It's so rewarding to not only be designing a product but designing the organization too. Hiring talented people, aligning on values and our mission, and coming together around those make early-stage ventures worth it.
I struggled to get into the holiday spirit and given the year, that's understandable. Natalia and I continued her grandparents' tradition of making pierogies and delivering them to the whole family.
Tonight is the last night of 2020. There's a cackling campfire in front of me, a beautiful yurt behind me, and my fiancé and dog are next to me. It was a wild year but I'm grateful to be where I am. Onward to 2021.