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2018 in Review

──── 7 mins#Reviews, #Life

One night, while sipping a drink on the couch with friends, discussing the plays and musicals of the West End that I had enjoyed most, then it struck me. Just how much I relied on memory for life events and experiences.
So here I am, writing my first year in review.

We’re well into 2019 already, but who cares? This is mainly for myself, but I enjoy reading these and you probably do too.

A fair bit of travelling

We visited 2 new countries:

  • Romania
  • Switzerland

And a few new cities:

  • New York
  • Boston
  • Glasgow
  • Amsterdam

This was particularly intense between May and September, when we were on a plane about once a month, a first time for us.

🗽 New York City

My first time in New York was definitely something to remember, so much that it warrants its own section here. The epic moments were as epic as predicted, but I was not prepared to see the current state of America’s infrastructure.

After hearing about it as a paradise unlike any other place, I did not expect to see so many trash bags on sidewalks, decrepit buildings, and ancient public transports.

I would never have thought that visiting NYC would make me appreciate London more. A lot more, in fact.

A colleague once told me that “America is like a third-world country for public transport”. I assumed it was an exaggeration, but I can tell you that it was definitely less than a third of what I expected.

Now, don’t get me wrong, except for some parts that really didn’t hold up to the standards I was expecting, it is unlike any other place. Despite all that, there’s a buzz, a vibrancy, something exceptional there. I am looking forward to visiting again.

A lot of conference talks

I was on a plane or a train for a presentation at least once every other month between September 2017 and July 2018 😵. This was the year with the highest number of conference talks for me, I gave 5 talks between March and July, and there were all new, very different presentations touching on several subjects. No slide decks were reused.

It was exciting, stressful, tiring, nerve-wracking, and surreal.

Speaking in front of a large audience at respected tech conferences was also an important milestone for me and I am glad it worked out the way it did. These events were responsible for very happy moments that will stay with me for a long time.

Moved to Canada 🇨🇦

Oh, boy, what an emotional roller-coaster that was.

From the moment our visas started progressing to the moment we touched the ground, there was always something in the back of our minds that was causing us stress.

We’re glad it’s over, and will wait to see the four seasons before forming an opinion.

The winter is, different, but there’s something to be said about the sun not setting at 3.30pm.

Started listening to podcasts

There’s always a bit of a balance when choosing what to include in these kind of posts. Podcasts have had a very positive and far-reaching impact on my daily life, and filled a void that existed but couldn’t really be comprehended.

The very first podcasts that I actually listened to somewhat regularly (probably once a week) were Unfinished Business, Shop Talk Show and Happy Monday, back in 2014, before that industry was as big as it is today. Does that make me a podcast hipster? Maybe.

But then I stopped pretty quickly, because I made the stupid mistake to try to listen to them at work, and couldn’t (still can’t) listen to something that requires my attention while doing anything work-related.

So, why now ?

I get bored very quickly, which is the reason why I never enjoyed running, after 20 minutes or so, my attention falters, even if my body can keep up, I just want to do something else.

It’s only this year that I realised that mindless tasks were perfectly suited for this, and podcasts are now my companion for many, many activities, ranging from shopping to household chores.

This also obviously made walking more than 20 minutes for something mundane (like going to the post office) annoying, but not anymore, I am now looking forward to walking places, excited about what the next podcast would teach me.

Thanks to podcasts, I feel smarter, more informed, more connected with the world, and less alone in a busy street or shop.

I will also be forever grateful to JO for introducing me to the “intellectual dark web”.

Best of 2018

🎥 Cinema

Oh, there were a lot of great films this year, but two definitely stood out.

Avengers, Infinity war: Immensely anticipated, it’s start of the conclusion of years of great Marvel movies, the action and the pace was great, and the visuals too, and the shock that everyone was left with at the end.

The cinema room was silent during the first credits.

The Greatest Showman: Weirdly, I wasn’t super excited about this one initially, until someone from my family wholeheartedly recommended it.

I started looking into it a bit more, and realised that none other than Pasek & Paul were behind the music. Needless to say, I watched it not long after. It’s definitely the film that made me feel the strongest emotions this year.

🎙️ Songs

2018 was a very interesting year for me musically, I definitely took the time to explore more genres.

Without a doubt, the best song that I discovered in 2018 was:

Waving Through the Window — Pasek & Paul for Dear Evan Hansen

This song has grace, power, and and incredible amount of depth as it depicts the world of someone with social anxiety.

I cannot wait to see the musical, it’s definitely at the top of my list.

These Days — Rudimental with Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen

A story of transition into adulthood, broken dreams and the one that got away, told using a very unusual mix of styles.

I describe this song as “The Closer of 2018.” As Billboard said in 2016, it manages to “capture the millennial zeitgeist in brilliantly infectious fashion.”

Artists

Sara Bareilles — I learned how to play the main turnaround of Love Song a long time ago, but my knowledge of her repertoire was limited to this song and King of Anything, which are great catchy songs.

It’s only during this year that I discovered the full extent of her work, from the score of Waitress to an autobiographical book. (Which is best enjoyed as an audiobook narrated and sung by Sara, obviously).

I find myself always coming back to the “soothing end” of her work, with Manhattan, She Used to be mine and Gravity becoming regular companions of nightly walks.

Foy Vance — I had heard his name because he was collaborating with Ed Sheeran a while back. The fact that there is a Foy Vance and a Vance Joy in my playlists was certainly noteworthy (yes, that’s a one-letter difference).

Some of this solo guitar work did not inspire me as much, but his piano songs are astonishing. Bangor Town is a beautiful display of raw talent.

Resolutions

It’s a bit unfair to talk about new years resolutions now that we’re 20% into 2019, but during the mandatory conversation on New Year’s Eve, this is what I recall mentioning.

  • Fitness: I’m still a long way from being satisfied on that front, and Canada made it unbelievably harder.
  • Communication: Whether it’s written or spoken, it’s been clear that I need to work on it, let’s make it a priority this year.

What an incredible period of time this has been, now this is March 2019 already, so I’ll see you all next time 👋