Twenty twenty three annual report and twenty twenty four goals27 Dec 2023
It’s that time again: Annual report time. This is the 10th!!! A decade of reports!
Professional accomplishments first
Through Myriad, I pitched and won a bid researching file formats for the Library of Congress. These 39 formats are the ones I am researching and XML’ing.
Not a requirement of the project at all, but you can follow along with my thoughts on these formats with weekly blog posts. They’re fairly brief. I’m trying to capture any thoughts I had that won’t make it into the actual research. I’ve written/posted 18 so far this year, and there’s another 23 to go.
Just recently, I had some fun working with the Library of Congress Format Description Documents as a collection rather than individual data files, you can see the fun I had with datasette and dashboards here.
Co-wrote a paper on VLC with one of my best pals, Andrew Weaver, published in Code4lib Journal #57. The Forgotten Disc: Synthesis and Recommendations for Viable VCD Preservation.
I won an award: the NDSA 2023 Excellence Award in the Educator category.
Last year, I published a book. This year, I published 5 more. That is, I published 2 more in the series and then all 3 were translated into Spanish and also published. Also, I redesigned the book’s website, which contains all the illustration and data, as well as a little trivia game that I made.
I also wrote a draft for an entire novella-sized book. That’s still something semi-under wraps, possibly-probably revealed in 2024?
I went through some very very very stressful times this year, hence putting together this mindless clicker game called please please please. None of the begging has helped, though, but I haven’t given up hope. I will keep clicking.
There was another little techno-divination project, too, and that was billboard-astrology, for understanding yourself a little better as told through the songs that were top of the charts at certain key life (or before-life) moments.
I got married! In a semi-elopement move, Rory and I had a meaningful but anticlimactic bureaucratic process with the City of Philadelphia through filling out forms, paying $100, having some friends sign those forms, mailing them in, and waiting. We celebrated through a series of small parties. We also took a 16-day trip to Japan.
Things continue to be pretty bleak in this world. I’ve been having trouble doing anything that isn’t something I can perceive as surviving. Everything feels like a burden that I either have to engage in because it’s essential to me living or it’s something that I can drop. It’s sort of hard to explain – I’ve experienced so many moments of joy this year, and am overall doing fine-to-well, but I hold this overwhelming sense of dread, shame, and like everything is going to fall apart at any moment. I’ve done a lot of self-reflection on this over the year, and I think a lot of that processing has been very difficult but overall paying off in terms of long-term self-image. It means I’m spending a lot of time evaluating statements like “I had a perfectly fine and normal childhood, except I guess I did feel sad and scared all of the time.”
I had gone off of an SSRI at the end of last year, and I have recently brought it back, and that seems to be making a difference. I shouldn’t have dropped it in the first place, but there were some big problems with health care earlier in the year that put me in a difficult situation in terms of accessing care at all. Also I’m very scared of losing money and don’t think I deserve care.
Something I’ve struggled with a lot over this past year… I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to overall “take it easy” and work on some burnout recovery, essentially spending a lot of time doing nothing. Some of that time is thinking about how to sustainably run a business and work as an independent contractor. I have a lot of the skills necessary to do this; I’ve done it successfully before. But overall, I find myself dissatisfied over two sticking points, one of which I’ve known for a long time and another I’ve just come to terms with recently.
The first is that I hate marketing. I hate marketing myself, specifically. I can do it for this once-a-year post where I list out my accomplishments or I can send out a Mastodon post once I’ve finished something, but that’s pretty much my limit. Hyping other people and projects is something I love to do, but talking about my strengths and accomplishments and trying to woo others into entering into contracts with me, or promoting the work that I’ve done in ways that hit the target audience… I do not like. I very emphatically do not like that. I think a lot of people don’t like that. I have a lot of issues around this, and I think it’s something I’ll always struggle with.
The second one is that I really love being able to be generous. Specifically, on this subject, to be generous with my time. Contracting work strips away that mentality, by nature of constantly considering my time as it relates to my hourly rate, it’s harder for me to do things that I truly enjoy but feel like they don’t fit into this capitalist exchange. It means I end up feeling guilty or full of dread for spending my time on something I love but isn’t in my financial interest. Of course, there is a world where I keep running towards contracting to the point where I have a strong client list and can spend more of my hours donated to fun efforts, but that paired with the hurdle of how much it pains me to do self-promotion, I think it’ll be a difficult journey to get there. I’m not saying it’s irresolvable or that other people in this style of work are not generous, I’m just saying it’s been a challenge for me. There are other factors here I’m not delving into, like the repercussions in my life that have come from people-pleasing and chronic issues with overworking as a futile way to achieve self-worth, but those are present as well (and very, very heavy).
I am on contract with Myriad on this Library of Congress project until next Spring (and I’m on track to wrap up the bulk of my work even sooner), but I think I will be looking at joining the traditional labor force again. It’s been hard to grapple with. I think this year, my lesson has been “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Especially in terms of just because I am willing to suffer, it doesn’t mean that I should. Just because I can do hard things, that doesn’t necessitate that I must do hard things all the time.
Something that’s been on my mind in a lot of different ways this past year is around safety. It’s been on my mind a lot over the previous two years, too. And as long as I can remember. This year, I have a lot of safety and stability in my life everywhere except for when it comes to work. I don’t think I believe that it’s possible for millennials to feel safe re: work; we don’t live in a world where that’s achievable anymore. Survival feels very hard. I’ve been thinking and trying different scenarios, and I don’t have the answer yet and I don’t know if I ever will, but I do feel like I’ve learned a lot (even if it can’t be articulated).
Okay, also, I listened to a lot of audiobooks this year. Amongst my favorite books follow a clear pattern: Rouge by Mona Awad, Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter, Old Enough by Haley Jakobson, Mary by Nat Cassidy, Nestlings by Nat Cassidy, Yellowface by RF Kuang, Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward, They Never Learn by Layne Fargo, Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilakam Chlorine by Jade Song.
Last year, I felt like the difference between 2022 and 2023 was trivial – I didn’t have that feeling like I was going to freshly enter into the new year. My partner and I didn’t even go anywhere. Just one day and then just another day. (And I mean, that’s totally true, to assign so much meaning to arbitrary passing of time). This year, I feel like I’m preparing for significant changes. Maybe it’s because I’m looking back at how much I feel like I did change over this year (even when not a lot of things formally changed). I feel like I’m a very different person than I was last January, last April, last July, and now. Not growth, not degrowth, just change. I also feel like I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering (in my house and digitally and in my brain) to get ready for a fresh 2024. Like, okay, I have wallowed, time to stop wallowing.
Last year, my buying ban was really successful. I only started to cut lose when I was on vacation, and then things got a little loosey-goosey after that, so that was most of the year. I’ll continue this buying-ban trend and try to quantify things a bit better.
I wrote a sweet little goal for 2023 and I didn’t achieve it, but mostly because I spent the year really thinking about what it is that I want out of work (a lot of which I mentioned above) and I landed a total dream of a contract (also mentioned above), postponing the long-term goal. I’m still on that journey.
Despite my best efforts, I’ve slipped into “prediabetes,” (joining, apparently, around 1/3 of my fellow Americans in that category). This has been a frustrating point for me, because much like the struggles around my relationship with work, I feel like I already do “all the right things” and go above-and-beyond the average in terms of staying reasonably healthy. But I’m still struck down by what I assume is largely genetics (thanks, dad) and a bit of “it’s not reasonable to do constant low exercise while working FTE” and “my hobbies involve sitting still for long periods of time” and “wow, costs of groceries have really gone up and it’s hard to keep constant access to fresh, low-GI foods” AND abstaining from all carbos at all times. Doctors are very unhelpful here, just telling me to stop doing things I already don’t do and start doing things that I already do. It’s been tough on my pre-existing condition of thinking “I have to do everything perfectly at all times or I will simply not be allowed to survive in this world.”
I went in on health this year, getting an Oura ring and currently wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor to determine which foods are unexpectedly bad for me. So far, it’s only been expected items (mostly pastries). The only thing that both the Oura and CGM are in strong, loud alignment is alcohol – even a single early-evening beverage-with-dinner is enough for the Oura ring to give me a “Hmm, something kept your heart rate up last night” note in the morning, and the CGM notes that while alcohol doesn’t make my glucose spike (in fact, sometimes it lowers it – I hear it’s because the body is like “ugh, gotta deal with this lil poison before I worry about processing the sugar), but it does make the numbers go up and not go back down for 12+ hours. So, just like the pre-existing soft ban on pastries, I know what I need to do in 2024.
There are a few more goals that I won’t note here for now, but may make an appearance in the next annual wrap-up (fingers crossed) or they are a bit boring and not worth mentioning here. There are also some major tribulations on the horizon and I don’t know how they are going to impact me.
…Happy new year!