My 2019

When 2019 started, my life plan was basically to support my twin sister Kelly on her path to greatness. Sheer strength of personality made her unstoppable, but she needed help finding her path and maintaining balance. Socially, I forced her to get engaged with others, and my wild silliness always helped portray her as rational and calm in comparison. We just worked together very well. But this year, as she faced her greatest struggles, I was half a continent away, too focused on international travels and making an impression in my new career. Her suicide in March is undeniably one of the most life changing that will ever occur for me.

On the positive side, in late 2019 I completed a year of being a data scientist. I love this career, it is complex and has great power to solve problems. It is well paid, and cutting edge, leading the way. I am still struggling in the field in that there is a tendency to expect 5+ years of experience for all the job postings, particularly in my home city of Minneapolis. This has forced me to look further afield both now and back when I started work in Wisconsin back in 2018.

My work at US Venture, in Appleton Wisconsin, was great for having a great manager (Gary) and friendly work team. Yet I felt out of place, as most of my teammates could have been my parents in age, and the company didn’t align with even my lowly environmental ethics. Wisconsin is also despicable to me: beer, football/baseball, hunting/fishing, mindless religion, pickup trucks, bland human sprawl. The big problem is that there really is little beyond, there. Creativity? Innovation? Passion? Desire to Improve? Desire to Think? You’ve got to go elsewhere for those, and in 2020 I shall, having recently quit my job at US Venture.

A poor picture, but a beloved band. In March 2019, I saw Within Temptation, my favorite band, live in Minneapolis for the first time. It was an emotional concert for me, as I attended the day after Kelly died. I loved every second of that performance.

Not that I spent much time in Wisconsin as it was. Being able to work remotely much of the year, I took the chance and fled. I was in New Zealand in January 2019. I was in Sweden for 45 days starting end of May, featuring a swing by several other cities in Europe, particularly Prague. In the US I visited Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, Michigan, and Los Angeles. And I spent large portions of the year at the beautiful family farm in Minnesota – which has been my official residence since May, but my parents felt like I had only moved in here around Thanksgiving, since I had spent so much of the rest of the year away.

Travel is what has defined my daily life of 2019, in a good way. I love seeing new places and trying new things. I also love how, staying at hostels and other places, I can meet open-minded people to learn about the world. It is also a problem, the more I travel, the higher my expectations are for what humans can accomplish – and all the places I see taking in resources but not contributing much, I judge harshly.

Harsh judgement was another common theme for me in 2019. It could partially be a result of increasing political polarization. It is partly a result of travel. Most importantly, I shared a culture with Kelly that no longer exists. That culture was competitive, experimental, remorseless, creative, and sharply knowledge-focused – making a better world through struggle and effort. I resent that I no longer have any one to share that with, and instead, far too many people around with opposing beliefs – particularly not enough focus on critical seeking of the basic nature of our world. I have friends, but I really would like more of a team, like Kelly and I were, with passion and focus to improve.

On the positive side, 2019 marked a year of me starting to get back in touch with my other triplet sister, Christine. I have spent most of the last decade living as a de-facto twin, just Kelly and I, but there was always our rogue sister Christine. She has finally become a wee bit less rogue, and now chats amicably with me instead of lashing out at me as a tool of the parental dictatorship. We still share more in common than most people, especially now that she has also spent much of her 2019 traveling abroad.

Otherwise in 2019, my parents have finally settled and mellowed into their retirement. My major shared interest with my dad is cycling, and I still spent plenty of time and money on cycling this year. There was however, one major change – I switched to triathlon.

Kelly was the one who originally proposed I do triathlon. She had brought it up a few times over the last two years or so. She liked, I think, the more independent nature of professional triathletes over professional cycling teams. I dismissed her idea because I wasn’t particularly good at swimming, and always had issues with injury while running. This last January, Kelly and I had an exchange about what sports I should do instead of cycling. I had been falling out of road racing because I had had too many concussions, and my mind, being so important to me, just cannot be risked to that degree. Triathlon won because I was already rather good at cycling (and wanted to keep doing it in a less dangerous way), and swimming and running are both endurance sports of similar enough demand. Running has also proven to be excellent for traveling, as all it really requires is a pair of shoes.

Here, at the end of the year, I am fully a triathlete. I still am terrible at swimming efficiently (it took me 10 minutes longer to swim 1.5 km than one of my fellow age groupers). I am vastly better at running but still struggle to do a 10K without some kind of knee pain. I did manage to get a handful of running Strava CR’s, beyond the far more plentiful cycling KOMs. I also did well in triathlon racing, outright winning the local Red Wing triathlon, winning age group in Minneapolis, and finishing 2nd in age group for the regional championships. It was nice to get some medals, although next year I will be in the 25-30 age group and medals might be rare again for a few years… Above all, I really like the sport. It is still cycling, but also more, with easier travel options, new skill challenges in swimming, and generally a passionate sport of science and endurance.

Seasons Change at the Farm

What’s next, for 2020?

I have exactly one firm plan for 2020 – a trip to New Zealand with my parents from mid January to the end of February. Normally I would prefer to travel on my own, but hey, offer to cover pretty much everything of my travel costs and I’ll make an exception. Then, either my government contract will finally get around to starting in DC, or I’ll hang out in New Zealand for a working holiday.

I am part way through my first major project – AutoTS, a package for time series forecasting. Hopefully I will publish a version of that to pypi in the next month or so, and hopefully it grows beyond that too. I’ve got some other projects under way as well, somewhat pending my ultimate living destination, which is very much TBD. Finally, I hope to focus on triathlon. There’s a cool new time trial bike planned, and lots of running and cycling. If I settle down a bit, I’d also like to get a swim coach and actually learn how to swim in a decent way.

1 thought on “My 2019”

  1. I like what you had to say. I think I need to write something similar to summarize this last year. Although my 2019 was considerably less productive than yours. Mostly I travelled to distract myself from my grief and guilt regarding Kelly’s suicide.

    Also sad to hear I am a wee bit less rogue. Must be my old age.

    I too, am dealing with the ultimate living destination being very much TBD. I seek a country that is progressive, has friendly, open-minded, and intelligent people, has a low cost of living, free medical care and lower cost education, and has the climate and geography that allows for doing many outdoor activities and cycling. At the moment Rio de Janeiro fits this best for me. While I don’t know if the people are particularly open-minded (as I don’t speak Portuguese enough to have a conversation), and they struggle with poverty, crime, and machismo-attitudes, it does provide the opportunity for me to live cheaply, do incredible hikes and bike rides, and feel welcome by the people around me. Brazil ranked as one of the most friendly countries in the world– and this I feel on a daily basis. If I ever need help or advice, regardless of the language barrier, people leap to assist. It’s part of their culture. Meanwhile, in Europe I never got this sensation. I felt like I was just another irritating tourist that was interrupting their daily lives. Here I can also teach English and make a salary similar to what I would make in the United States ($15/hr), and live on less than $500/month. The only parts I really dislike is that men view women solely as sexual objects, that I am constantly being scammed and over-charged, and that there are lots of shootings nearby. All of these things are avoidable– with more knowledge I have learned to avoid most scams. And the solution for the machismo is to stick to conversing solely with women when possible. The shootings don’t interrupt my daily life as they are targeting gang/drug members, not pedestrians.

    Anyway, enough of that. It is unfortunate that you no longer have Kelly as your partner. Someone to challenge your thoughts/debate with you, compete with you in an effort to make you better, etc. People with personalities like that are very rare. Sadly I don’t have the characteristics to be that person– and I believe it is probably genetic. You two always had more in common. I too, resent losing Kelly and no longer having a sister to fall back on. It’s unnatural not to be a threesome. I hope you find someone that can fit that role for you again. Its such a shame.

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