I started posting these yearly review posts two years ago, and each time I’ve failed to finish before the New Year’s Eve. This time is no different. Regardless, I think the effort is worthwhile and rewarding, especially for a cynical person like me who often has a hard time appreciating the good things in life. Unlike the doom and gloom of 2015 and 2016, my hindsight perception of 2017 is much more positive.

While I wouldn’t say the year was smooth sailing all through, it has ended on a good note for me because of some recent decisions. I have also been able to be comfortable with myself at a level I never managed before. All of this is great news and I cannot wait to take on new things in 2018, and continue some I started last year.

In no particular order, here’s an incomplete list of highlights1:

  • First, the big one – I moved to San Francisco! For a while I had been feeling a lot of personal stagnation, and desperately wanted to move to break out of it. There were many mixed feelings around this, with some positives and negatives, but overall I’m proud I did it. I’ve hosted parties, collected artwork, and created a space I feel good about. The move also shook me out of my physical lethargy, and I found a new gym and trainer, which has done great things for my overall well-being. I feel like I’m now moving past my usual sob story of physical injuries from old activities.

  • In 2017, I started pursuing acting and other performance arts! I did a few acting classes and a clowning class at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and engaged with several artistic people and activities. This meant more shows, new friends, and a variety of experiences I had sorely missed. This allowed me to channel my creativity that trickled down into other parts of life. If you met me in person, maybe you noticed I’ve been more freely expressive. While my attempts at auditioning for plays bombed spectacularly, I ended the year with an open-mic performance that was described by the organizer as the “sleeper hit of the night”.

मिठास, मसाला, और अच्छा सब कुछ डाला
  • Part of exercising the creative muscle for me was photography. I’m used to clicking a lot of photos in general, but this year I spent much time thinking about them also. For now, I’ve found my aesthetic, which could loosely be described as trying to look for abstract moods in everyday scenes, in a somewhat post-impressionist sense. I’m going to continue more of that this year now that I have bought a better camera. Plus there’s my Instagram account about fire escapes that you want to follow.
One of my favorite photos from the year (Bikaner, Rajasthan)
  • A common theme of much of my writing is Depression, which has troubled me for long enough now that it feels like a part of my reality for as long as I can remember. I also remember several false dawns when I thought I had overcome it, only to fall back into familiar bad habits again. But, I’ve had significant success in the last 2-3 months, and this time feels different. I’d write more about it, but I’m choosing not to because I’m avoiding this self-pity thing currently, plus we have a shitty culture that trivializes mental health issues and judges those who dare to talk openly about them. Ask me in person to know what’s working for me currently.

  • Being Depressed has side-effects™. The most troubling for me over time have been related to socialization and personal relationships. Last year, I managed to get into a better frame of mind wrt expectations from and responsibilities towards friends, particularly old ones. I also got comfortable calling new people my close friends, and that has been a significant boost for my happiness.

  • In 2017, I experimented with my appearance. This included coloring my hair and nails, and trying out more dressing styles than I’m normally used to. In a certain sense, I’ve embraced my femininity and gotten more comfortable about it. What has been a huge surprise though, is how much happier I feel breaking gender norms, than sticking around with a limited range of behaviors I was taught growing up.

Red hair, Times Square
  • If I had to mark down one experience from the year as being the most memorable, it would probably be watching the total solar eclipse back in August. A lot of effort went into making the two minutes of totality possible, but it was packed with overwhelming emotion. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

  • I failed to meet my travel goal of visiting at least one new country every calendar year2. That was okay though, because I still managed a very memorable trip to India in December (besides, exploring a new area of India is roughly the same as visiting a new country right?). Overall, trips were shorter and less planned out. I often felt much less excitement about visiting places than in the past. Among travels that stood out in the year:

    • Bangalore (January) for a meetup talk and some socializing.
    • New Orleans (March) to spend a few days submerged in good jazz.
    • Austin (April) where I spent a week for work and pleasure.
    • Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks (May), where I hiked to the top of Angels Landing.
    • Yosemite National Park (June) to climb the Half Dome cables.
    • Acadia National Park (June) which was the furthest I’ve been north-east.
    • New York City (June) where I spent a few days working remotely and enjoying several shows (including a live taping of the Colbert show and seeing Trevor Noah and Laurie Metcalf up close!).
    • Portland (July) for the memorable bachelorette trip of a close friend.
    • Portland (August) again for the total solar eclipse. This included an Amtrak ride on the Coastal Starlight, and a backbreaking overnight drive back because we missed the return flight.
    • Sonoma County, California (September) for a hot air balloon ride!
    • Chicago (September) to visit a friend and explore magnificent architecture.
    • Moab and Arches National Park (October) for a couple of friends’ bachelor trip.
    • Bikaner (December) for a wedding and a great time.
    • Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh (December) to visit some temples with family.
Selected travel photos; clockwise from top: Random shot with some strangers in NOLA, Chicago skyline seen from Lake Michigan, Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, bylanes in Colaba (Mumbai), early morning view of Mt. Shasta from the Coastal Starlight train, cute restaurant in Bar Harbor (Maine)
  • I spent a lot of time exploring the city of San Francisco and its culture in depth, something I’d never really done before. I enjoyed that a lot, and it strengthened my convictions that I’m a city person through and through.
Dyke March in San Francisco (June)
  • Professionally, I continued working at Docker and gave a big talk at DockerCon 2017 in Austin, Texas. Other than that, it was business as usual, even though I’ve been thinking hard and seriously about longer term professional goals.
Speaking at DockerCon 2017 in Austin, Texas

In conclusion, I don’t want to write much, but add that I ended last year’s post with “For too long now, life has felt like someone else in the driver’s seat, and I want to end that”. I’m grateful that this actually happened to a noticeable extent, so I am looking forward to what comes my way in 2018.

  1. You may notice that most of these points might come across are very self-serving. This is decidedly meant to be the tone of this post. [return]
  2. Thanks to immigration constraints. [return]
- nRT