It’s been a busy year with a lot of changes, both Covid-related and otherwise. As is my custom, here’s my update for this circle around the sun.
The big news is that I am starting the new year with a new position at Stripe after a month off. If you’re not familiar with us, Stripe is a leading online payments processor with a lot of interesting additional finance-related things going on.
Leaving AWS was a very difficult decision, as I was extremely happy with everybody I worked with there and remain grateful for the opportunity they gave me to break out of both Southern California and the small/mid sized business focus that I had been increasingly trapped in. After “almost” leaving twice and deciding that the offered opportunities weren’t right, I eventually concluded that Stripe was a good choice. Geographic/remote flexibility, significantly better target compensation (plus a bunch of pre-IPO stock), and the opportunity to re-join an industry where I have long-standing experience made it feel good. But as I told my manager when I resigned, it was one of only two times that I left a role with entirely good feelings about all the people I was leaving behind, and many regrets and doubts about moving on.
It’s unclear exactly when we will get back to an office, or what form that may take. The Stripe Seattle office has re-opened for limited use this week but few of my team-mates are rushing back. I doubt I’ll ever go back to any office on a full-time basis, but I’m looking forward to in-person contact after more than a year of isolation while living in a place where I know few people.
For now, I am still in Seattle, but there are options for a move or full remote work over time. My team and the ones I’ll work with are roughly evenly split between here, San Francisco, Dublin and full remote, so we will see. For now, there will be no change in my need to balance West Coast and Dublin schedules/calendar as I have for the past two and a half years.
In the early months of the pandemic, I moved from the Belltown apartment with great views that many of you have seen on my social media, into a larger apartment in Queen Anne with more limited views, a dedicated workspace and better kitchen. I am here for now. As things have re-opened slowly I’ve been able to explore and I find this area much more walkable, pleasant and active than the former location. The view from the roof deck is good and makes up for the lost view in my old place.
I’m still very ambivalent about Seattle. I haven’t been able to give it as much of a chance as I may have wanted given the realities of the pandemic, but it’s telling that in a few visits to New York, I’ve developed more interesting personal connections than I have here in two and a half years. As one who has never enjoyed group activities much, I’ve found it extremely difficult to find a space for myself here. This however, is likely a problem for next year as I’ll be focused on settling in to the new job. The current company is very remote-friendly, and assuming I do well, should support whatever I need to do.
Jon arrived here at the beginning of his sojourn in the US in March and spent a month staying right down the street before heading to New York. It was nice to have somebody else around, as I still feel very much like a stranger here. He’ll be back later this week, prior to returning to Uruguay to finish up the academic year there in person.
For me, there’s been little opportunity to travel except for family. I’ve been to New York three times since November and managed to catch Springsteen on Broadway during his latest run. After many years of not heading back that much, I expect that I’ll now continue to travel east regularly. I have a functional home office setup in mom’s spare room, and an understanding with my current management that there will be occasional weeks away regardless of our office situation, so it will be easy for me to do that as I wish. I’m waiting to see how the Delta variant situation develops, as I would also like to get to Tel-Aviv this year after an 18 month absence.
Prior to the pandemic, much of my personal travel was just across the border to Vancouver, which I find to be a far more pleasant city than Seattle in many ways. I now have fewer friends there than before the pandemic, but have nonetheless returned this past week, now that the border is conditionally open. It was nice to spend a few days in a different place that I like, though many activities I’ve enjoyed before have not resumed and some may never.
It’s been a year of some losses, which are no small part of the reason I feel drawn back towards the east coast at times, still “home” for me in many ways. We lost Tom V. suddenly in the spring, a loss that ironically presented the opportunity to reconnect with many of you who I had not talked to in a long time. It’s been rare for more than a couple of months to go by without hearing of somebody I knew who is no longer.
Hobbies and other personal pursuits took a back seat to everything else during the craziest and most challenging work year of my life. I’ve just recently started photographing again after feeling very unenthusiastic for many months. A friend recommended that even though I am working in digital, I invest in a new printer and start producing prints, since I had always enjoyed a tangible result even if I didn’t share it with anybody else. It’ll never be the same as the darkroom work that I enjoyed years ago, but I’m feeling good about having something that I can share other than electronically. And new interesting skills to learn.
The motorcycle just sold after a very brief time on the market. After a few long trips the past couple of summers, I decided it was just a bit too cramped for me after more than and hour or two. (Oddly, I had no such problems with the Honda I had in New Zealand, despite it being a smaller bike!) So I took advantage of an insane resale market and sold it for more than I paid two and a half years ago. There’s not much point having a motorcycle in Seattle in the winter, so I can reconsider what makes sense in the Spring. I have found that long motorcycle trips in the US are a lot less fun than in New Zealand. Perhaps in the coming year, another New Zealand motorcycle trip might be possible. (Not holding my breath.)
The cats are quite happy with this location. Flash is now a sprightly young 13 year old who still thinks he’s a kitten most of the time, and makes no effort to conceal his expectation that I exist to serve him. MishMish (Hebrew for Apricot – ) has come into her own after more than a year of settling in. She’s still a bit shy with strangers, but happy to be around me as much as she can. She also learned to like Jon during the month he spent here. She’s plumped up nicely ever since I figured out her diet and food sensitivity issues.
Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, I wish you a fantastic year to come.
I’m still on social media, though less frequently by design. The important ones are at the top of the blog.
If we’ve spoken recently, let’s continue to do so. If we haven’t, let’s try to catch up at least once this year.
For those of you who didn’t get this update by email and think you should have, please get in touch and let me know what your correct email is!