Back to blogging in 2020!

I have not blogged in almost FOUR YEARS, since early 2016, and I want to get back in the swing of things. My goal for this post is to have it be adequate. I've got reasons for not writing: I had a job. I had a baby! Work things were too private to write about, and I didn't have brain space for thinking and writing about non-work things.

2019 Recap

How about an update, just of the past year, since it's been overwhelming. In January 2019, the startup I was at for 3.5 years was acquired. I was employee number one, loved lots of things about the startup, but didn't want to follow my team to the acquirer. Instead, I wanted to find a way to finish my PhD (that I started in *ahem* 2007, but left in 2014). In late January, I didn't know how it would happen, but by February, it seemed like there was a way through! I reconnected with people at my university, worked on my dissertation, and from April to June, I registered for my very last quarter. I rebuilt a wonderful and supportive committee, polished everything up, had a great defense, and officially graduated in June 2019. The last part of grad school was amazing, a whirlwind of everything finally working out. I am grateful to have experienced it, to everyone who helped me through, and to finally have gotten to the end of it.

Shortly after my PhD defense in June 2019, delighted and proud, standing in front of the UW CSE building (the first one)

After graduating, without any taking a meaningful break, I immediately joined a local startup. Six months later, I burned out hard. Or something. I felt like a badass, I did amazing invaluable work, I was a Director of Engineering and AI, performing the role of CTO and pushing my abilities to new limits, but it cost way too much of my soul for not enough payoff. I left about three weeks ago in January 2020.

Startups, man. I've got some interesting data points to compare and contrast.

2020: Into the Unknown

That's a Frozen 2 reference, y'all. The first Frozen movie came out around the time I was thinking about quitting grad school, so Elsa has a special place in my heart regarding life transitions.

I've had this unfinished PhD weighing on me from 2014-2019 and a lot of things I did (first startup, family, other assorted jobs) were in the shadow of that, even the latest startup that I jumped right into (in the penumbra of the shadow, you could say). I am finally, finally, finally free of that weight.

Who am I without that weight? I am only just starting to allow myself to decompress so I'm not 100% sure. But I know I have everything I need to move forward and figure it out.

When I was a teen (or younger? in debate with my mom) and wanted to absurdly answer the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?", I said I wanted to be a firetruck. This weekend, I was with my parents visiting their old coworkers, one who collects old fire engines, so I was near a firetruck. I think that's a good sign.

Wearing a firefighter's hat (from SFFD, it seems) next to a fire engine from 1924

Riding the fire engine with my mom and dad

In the near future, I would love to write about: Aspects of my dissertation. Random silly things I'm working on (todo: work on silly things). Serious things I'm working on or thinking about. Observations, musings, etc. The title of this blog is still apt: "projects and stuff".