I just want to get this out of the way: I am not good at updating my blog; I know this. For anyone who actually cares (approximately zero people), I’m sorry for that. I’ve had various approaches to working around this problem in the past, most
recently being an attempt to just write as much as I can in one shot, picking up wherever I last left off. As of my last such post on April 1, 2010, that meant I was about a year and a half behind current events; as of now, I’m a bit more than three years overdue. I started writing a more extensive blog post about early 2009 back in late 2010, so I’ve got a fair amount of detail there, but that’s
hopefully where it ends. It drives me a little crazy to do this, but I’m going to try to cover the first two of those years in about four paragraphs (after the extra detail for early 2009), and then spend a little more time writing about 2011 as it draws to a close.
Between the major factors I can think of in my life—work, friends, romance, and music—the one that sticks out most during this period is work. A lot changed there (in multiple ways), and that marked the beginning of a very different phase of my work at EFI. In addition to that, my romantic life in the first quarter of 2009 continued on its path outside my comfort zone of serial long-term relationships, and I stayed very busy on all fronts.
I went to a New Year’s Eve party at John K’s place (one of the epic parties described in my previous entry) pretty fresh off the news that Marta was getting back together with Ben. We hadn’t gotten particularly serious, so the news didn’t immediately devastate me, and I actually got a bit excited at the prospect of hitting this party as an eligible bachelor. In particular, I’d always thought Lacee (John K’s then-girlfriend’s sister) was pretty cute and fun to talk to (i.e. the few times I’d seen her before in my life…at John’s parties), so was looking forward to getting a chance to spend a fair amount of the evening with her. Much to my chagrin the next day, however, things didn’t work out quite that way in practice. Being the social whore that I tend to be on occasion, I chatted up pretty much everyone I ran into, upon entering the party. It couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes before someone new arrived at the door (from which I’d been unable to stray more than 20 feet), and I either let her in, or someone with whom I was speaking let her in and introduced me to the girl, whose name I learned was Olya. To make an already-too-long story shorter, we ended up talking basically the entire night, we kissed at fake-midnight, and that was neat and all, but I was still sad that I hadn’t spent the night talking to Lacee, and getting my NYE kiss from her.
(Well, just barely.) On January 2nd, then, John K was gracious enough to arrange an event (watching Frost:Nixon at Southdale—good movie, by the way) that would give me a chance to spend time with Lacee. Obviously we couldn’t talk a ton during the movie, but we were able to talk a little before the movie and plenty afterward, and things went swimmingly. We even made plans to hang out the next night (and I made plans to buy her some Godiva chocolate (milk and raspberry, not dark)). That went over pretty well, and I think she started to warm to me :). Long story short (which is the approach I’m supposed to be taking, but failing), we sorta dated for a few exciting weeks, but it became apparent to me there were some issues that hampered real long-term potential, so I broke things off before the end of January.
January included a handful of other cool things, too. I went to a capoeira class with Adam B, which was probably the best full-body workout I’ve experienced in my life. I would have loved to have committed to joining the class, but it was decently expensive, and required more time and motivation than I had. I hung out more with Lacee, Rita S, Dana H, Patrice S, of course Naomi, saw Brian P perform at the Fine Line, and played laser tag with Anbon C. Two particularly noteworthy things transpired, one motivated largely by the other: I got my bedroom painted, assembled, and the rest of my condo cleaned up, and I threw a party!
I decided spontaneously late one night that I should put together an event to go rollerblading at the Metrodome (a recurring event called RollerDome). Naturally, in concurrence with this, it followed that I should have a little party of sorts at my place. So, I picked a date, made a facebook event, and committed myself to this course of action. I got to thinking, though, that perhaps this party would be a good excuse to finally finish painting and assembling my bedroom, so as to free up floorspace in my living room occupied at that time by my mattress. I cautiously revealed that secret to Patrice S, and she was insistent that she come help me. As dismissive as I’d previously been to myriad offers of help, this was different for two reasons: 1. I had a deadline, and 2. I’d kind of always had a little crush on Patrice, since meeting her years earlier.
So, Patrice came over a few times, I bought pizza for us, and we got lots of painting and talking done. For as terrified as I was that someone else was going to come and screw up my painting, I have to claim responsibility for the biggest painting mishap (I won’t call it an accident, because—as I joked about with Patrice—there really are no accidents / source). Although I had taped everything off, I got a little too aggressive with the roller, and ended up hitting the edge of the paint-soaked roller to the pristine white ceiling. I dabbed and wiped away as much paint as I could, but I had no paint thinner or the like, so I knew it was a done deal. A little coat or two of white paint/primer should probably erase the blunder from history, but in the meantime, the six-inch blemish is a constant reminder of my hubris, defeated.
The room painting was completed only a few days prior to the party, but I still had a ton of arranging / room setup and cleaning to do prior to the event. Per normal, I didn’t use my time very wisely during the weekend preceding the event, so I ended up taking the day of the event off work to get things ready. I did manage to get my bed frame assembled and mattress moved around 1 AM the night before, only to discover it was about 1/4" too wide to fit between the base trim in the bed-sized window recess/nook in my bedroom, so it stuck out into the center of the room about 18 inches more than necessary. I had grand visions of sawing a small slice off the edge of my bed frame to make it fit (since I decided that permanently damaging my relatively inexpensive Ikea bed frame was preferable to potentially permanently damaging my very expensive condo), but held off, noting there were bigger fish to fry at the time.
As I always do, I managed to get things looking pretty presentable about 10 minutes after people were allowed to start arriving (though, I could have spent an entire extra day working on it, and still had things left to do). Thankfully no one was obnoxiously punctual (or—heaven forbid—early), but I finally got to rest and have a drink when Spencer H arrived. He and I have never hung out independent of our group of mutual friends, so it was cool to get a chance to talk with him for a bit before we had to head over to the Metrodome, where I’d given other people the option of meeting us. Thankfully the weather was pretty nice, so our few-block walk over there was pleasant enough, and we timed things pretty well, so other folks were arriving right around the same time as us. One drink in, Spencer and I strapped on rollerblades for the first time in years, but after a cautious lap or two, felt good enough about our skills to take a
speed lap on the upper concourse (for advanced skaters only!). Three comments about that: 1. people who go speed skating in spandex suits at the Metrodome are ridiculous, 2. it’s possible to get going pretty damn fast on rollerblades, and 3. wearing jeans and a long-sleeve button-down shirt is possibly not the ideal way to go rollerblading, as far as body-heat / sweat is concerned.
After rollerblading for a while, though, we decided to move the party back to my place. Amanda S offered a ride to Spencer and me, perhaps for the added benefit of then being able to park in my underground garage, which we graciously accepted. After arriving home, and the rest of the group filtering in, I insisted that everyone pose for a photo, since I’d neglected to take any at the Metrodome. (I claimed I’d photoshop rollerblades onto everyone later, which hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still optimistic for the chances of that happening.) While a few folks were sadly unable to arrive in time to join us for our motile fun, we were graced with a few additions to our group not long after beginning this second phase of the evening. Naomi K arrived shortly, and immediately took on her beloved role as lead bartender, and Emily B, Patrice S, and Brian P joined the other party-goers. Although a few people departed pretty early due to work early the next morning, the infusion of some fresh blood, the arrival of some Pizza Hut delivery, the steady flow of good drinks, and great company kept most people around for at least a few more hours. After numbers had dwindled a bit, Naomi, Emily, maybe one other person, and I were the only remaining partiers. After Naomi mentioned
that music video with the sexy aerobics class and lots of hip thrusting (or something to that effect), I not only knew what she was talking about, but indeed had the video: Eric Prydz – Call on Me (check it out for yourself on youtube, if you’re not familiar). It didn’t take a ton of convincing at that point to get me to poorly
follow along with Naomi to the ridiculous on-screen routine, which Emily was only too happy to stand back and photograph :p. Overall, though, I was very happy with the outcome of the party!
Get on with it!
During the rollerdome after-party, Patrice formalized a plan to put together a dinner-and-ice-skating thing on Fridays (at her place). I jumped at the opportunity, and enjoyed my time with her, good food, and fun skating at Van Cleve Park, but she was still pretty hung up on her ex-boyfriend from ~6-10 months earlier. Although we were probably pretty well entrenched in the friend zone, we did still talk a ton, hung out one-on-one a fair amount, and she even let me take her out for (casual) dinner on Valentine’s day; at the time, I explained to another friend that I identified with this. I eventually told her I’d be interested in dating (over IM…when she was drunk), and was encouraged by the response
just come over and lets make out sometime and see how it goes, but that didn’t ever actually happen before she left the state (after graduating) a couple months later … and then she completely wrote me out of her life. I messaged/texted about four times over the course of a few months after she left, and she never responded, so that made me feel super confused and shitty. I still feel bad, to be honest.
In 2009, I was still working for EFI, but things switched gears a bit. For the first month or two, the team I was on got temporarily pulled onto another high-profile project (Command Workstation 5) that was behind schedule and high on bugs in order to help move things along. That was the most I’d ever worked on a GUI application, and it was an interesting experience, but didn’t exactly inspire me to change my preferences from back-end to front-end development.
After that, we entered the beginning stages of what was slated to be a high-profile contract project for EFI with a major customer—FedEx Office/Kinko’s (FXO). EFI was selling FXO on a big integration of a few existing EFI products to achieve significant workflow automation in FXO’s closed-door printing/processing facility line of business (e.g. when customers have FedEx Office/Kinko’s print 5000 copies of a 500-page booklet, etc). The product my team had been working on for the previous few years was part of that solution being sold, which required a little enhancement for the contract, but a large portion of our work was making all of the products talk to each other, and some additional custom development to make content flow through the system. I, personally, got to lead the charge on two (to three) aspects of that solution, including nailing down the requirements, architecting a proposed solution, building prototypes / proof-of-concept demos, and then a mix of doing implementation myself and documenting work to be done and overseeing engineers in India to implement some of my designs.
This was, in retrospect, a pretty impressive amount of faith the managers put in me to undertake this, less than three years out of school at the start of the project, but fantastically exciting for me, and a great experience. It wasn’t easy by any means, and it was a lot of work, but it was very rewarding, overall, and to this date, my favorite period of work in my 10+ years of employment. At the time I might not have said exactly the same thing; with pretty regular conference calls and WebEx meeting with people in India around midnight my time, and being not at all uncommon for me to come home from a bar at 2 AM and respond to some emails or even do some more work before going to bed, I had reason to complain to friends on occasion, but it was exciting! I catch myself sometimes assuming that everyone (in software) would want to be doing exactly what I was doing then—designing new stuff from scratch, picking technology to use, solving problems, but I guess I realize I can’t fairly make that assumption at all. I also don’t know if there are jobs out there where there’s a good balance of getting to do that part and not having to work crazy schedules for ever, but please let me know if you do.
Looking back through my calendar, it seems like 2009 was pretty good for concerts/shows. I saw Lady Gaga on March 23 with my friend Dana H at a tiny venue in downtown Minneapolis (Fine Line, booked before she completely exploded in popularity), so for about $15 I was about 25 feet away from her on stage. I saw The Doves on May 28th at The Varsity Theater with Brian P, Wolfgang Gartner at the end of July (bit disappointed in his set relative to how much I liked his produced music—but his show in 2011 was awesome), Filo & Peri, Armin van Buuren on October 8th, missed seeing Mute Math (more on that later), Tiesto on October 30th, Above & Beyond on November 20th, David Guetta on November 24 (at Spin nightclub, horribly oversold, and made for a horrible experience), and Crystal Method on December 4. Woo!
Introduced in my last personal update, Rachael visited Minneapolis (from her home in Milwaukee) again in February, and I think I saw her again one evening during that visit (with other friends). We did start talking a lot more mid-spring, which led to me visit her (on my own) in April, at the end of which we made the ridiculous decision to try dating across a ~five-hour distance. This manifested itself in lots and lots of phone calls and IMing, and alternatively visiting each other on weekends (i.e. I went to Milwaukee one weekend, and she came to Minneapolis the next). We did spend our largest contiguous block of time together (by far) for about two weeks at the end of June through beginning of July, which exposed some issues. Still, we attending a wedding in Minneapolis together on July 11th, and another in Milwaukee on July 18th. That Milwaukee wedding—while a nice wedding on its own—turned into a really uncomfortable time for the two of us by the end of the reception, which put me in a bit of a quandary because…
We went on a vacation together July 23rd through 26th to New York City and Washington DC. I’d never been to New York City before, so that was exciting for me, but it was taken down a couple [dozen] notches by the tension between us…which wasn’t helped by getting through airport security about five minutes after our first flight was supposed to depart to NYC, but
thankfully it had been canceled (we learned once we got to the gate). We sat in the airport for hours until the next flight, which then got delayed, so rather than about two thirds of a day in NYC, we ended up with dinner in NYC for the beginning of our trip. We got to see the Statue of Liberty (more lame than I expected), walk around the Ellis Island museum (much cooler than I expected), eat at a fantastic fancy restaurant, stroll around the super ritzy shops (e.g. on Fifth Avenue), see
Ground Zero from the 9/11 attacks, walk around central park, visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and take the subway, among other things, but it was all constantly tainted by the tension between us.
We took a bus from NYC to Washington D.C., but it’s my recollection that we were unable to sit next to each other on the bus because we got there late, too. Once we arrived in DC and had an indeterminate amount of time until her friend arrived to pick us up, I gave her a letter I’d started writing after the awkward wedding explaining that things were clearly not right, and trying to figure out what that meant for us, and how to proceed. For better or for worse, her friend showed up pretty quickly, so we still didn’t get a chance to actually talk about any of those things. I’d been to DC in grade school, I believe, so it wasn’t all new to me, but it’d still been a while. Rachael’s friend, Kim, let us stay on her couch and was gracious enough to show us around the city, which was pretty awesome to have someone who knew what they were doing to navigate the trains, attractions, etc. (Additionally, Kim was really fun to hang out with and talk to, and we kept in touch for a while after the trip.) The coolest attraction we saw wasn’t the constitution, or anything in the Smithsonian museum of (US?) history (though the exhibit on Abe Lincoln was pretty neat), but PANDAS! The Smithsonian National Zoo has a few pandas, and in case you don’t know, I’m a huge fan of pandas, so despite the steamy weather, I greatly enjoyed getting to hang around the pandas for quite a while, watch them eat, walk around, etc; that made it all worth it :).
But, anyway, on the flight home from DC, I knew I had to talk to Rachael about what was going on between us, even though it wasn’t an ideal setting. She apologized about how she’d been acting, I apologized for some of my character flaws, and we decided it didn’t really make sense to keep dating. She insisted she wanted to stay friends, but she never responded to the few message I sent in the months and years to follow. Between Rachael’s and Patrice’s silent treatment to me, it’s really affirmed my belief that I’m a horrible person. My deepest regrets to you all :(.
Starting around early June, I began working on a friend’s start-up company in my spare time. It’s pretty well collapsed by the time of this writing, so I think I’m allowed to disclose that it was basically an attempt at a groupware / social network / PIM application. Full disclosure: I was pretty sure from the start that it was going to fail, so I didn’t pour my body and soul into it, but it was a good excuse to play with some other technology and
get my hands wet with some aspects of software development / networking that I’d been missing earlier in my conventional job. I worked on the networking design and chat + authentication implementation, along with general program design, brainstorming, documentation, etc. The project actually extended through most of 2011 (in some capacity), but it doesn’t really merit much more discussion than this paragraph—sorry Anbon.
I got an idea in my head randomly one day at work that it’d be cool to get a motorcycle endorsement on my license, so I looked into what it took to do that. The permit required only a very easy written test, followed by a one-evening-and-two-half-days-riding class for around $150 (if my memory serves me correctly). From coming up with the idea around June 11th, I passed the class/test for my license only ten days later, having never touched a motorcycle before that two-half-day riding portion of the class. While it was decently fun, I didn’t have any plans at the time to actually buy a motorcycle or do anything with the endorsement, but the seed had been planted. One other side-benefit of taking that
Basic Rider Course was that I struck up conversation with a girl, Alyssa, and as we parted ways after the test, exchanged email addresses. I invited her to Monday Night Dinner, where she became a pretty regular fixture until falling off the wagon some time around spring, 2010. Just a couple days after returning from my NYC/DC vacation with Rachael, I bought a 2002 Suzuki SV-650S from a guy on Craigslist, with the help of my motorcycle-riding friend Adam B on July 28. Yay!
After meeting Mary during late summer / fall 2008, I continued to see her just on a weekly basis at Monday Night Dinner through the first ~half of 2009. At some point she started coming out a bit more with a few of us on Wednesday night bar outings as well, and we got to know each other a little better. She was a major part of the Wolf Hunt (more on that below), and then we started going to more group outings together, and eventually did some things with just the two of us starting in early September. We went to some Twins (baseball) games together, went out to the bar together, went on a riverboat cruise, went to Oktoberfest together, stayed up well past midnight talking to each other, etc.
People more clever/observant than me already knew what you probably also have gathered, but it took us a while to realize that we were romantically interested in one another. Finally, on October 8 (following a consecutive week of seeing each other every day), I took the leap of professing my feelings to Mary. In perfect David form, I did this in a long, rambling speech I’d prepared, memorized, rehearsed, and very nervously delivered after inviting her to dinner at Punch pizza, talked casually until they kicked us out because they were closing, and then stood outside in the cold autumn night talking for another ~hour outside her apartment. (I’d been putting off delivering the speech until the very last moment, and was already an hour or more late to the Armin van Buuren show for which I had a ticket.) Anyway, she said she felt the same way I did, and wanted to give a relationship a shot, so we hugged, kissed, and then I had to leave (in very high spirits) for the show.
Things kept going well, aside from me getting sick the very next day and breaking my ankle a week later (more on that later). But we attended a friend’s wedding a few weeks after we started dating, and I passed that vetting process from a slew of Mary’s other friends :). We had our first Halloween together as [white, injured] Kanye West and Taylor Swift (reference), and while we didn’t actually spend Thanksgiving or Christmas together, we did have our own early celebrations and Christmas gift exchange (in which Mary got something cute/romantic and thoughtful, and I did my normal approach of just getting something expensive :/…but she still seemed to enjoy it).
Wolf Hunt (party)
As part of Mary’s job, she taught a lab section of a microbiology class for a few weeks once or twice a year. One of her lab sections included a student who wore a very memorable
Wolf Shirt (along the lines of this or the related products) on multiple occasions. Various stories about the class with that student came up a number of times during Monday Night Dinner, and eventually spawned the idea to throw a party centered around wearing wolf shirts to places where they didn’t normally
belong. We picked a Saturday in mid June, and met up in the early afternoon to go on the
hunt for shirts: as a group, we set out to hit various thrift stores, etc, around the cities with the goal of finding a unique wolf shirt for each member of our group pack. We did pretty well, if I do say so myself.
After accomplishing that first part of the mission, we picked up some Little Caesar’s pizza (classy! like our wolf shirts), and headed back to my condo. The girls set about variously modifying shirts, getting ready, having a few drinks, and were eventually ready to hit the club (clearly). We chose Downtown Drink as our destination, deeming that the most
collar-popper/sparkle-top place we could think of (and would thus be the most ironic to be there with wolf shirts). We did not fit in, but they let us in anyway, and had a smashingly good time. This story has been re-told easily dozens of times since it transpired (and was even a frequent topic of discussion before it took place), so I’m glad I’ve finally gotten around to putting it down in writing for posterity’s sake.
On October 17, 2009, we had an uncharacteristically nice day following a streak of bad weather, so I was excited to take my [relatively] recently acquired motorcycle out for perhaps one last ride of the season. I knew I had to be back at a reasonable time, because I had plans to meet my friend Nick J around 5 PM, I think, for a Mute Math concert that evening. The following text message exchange occurred:
Nick (14:28): Hey. What’s the gameplan for tonight?
Me (16:19): Just got in mcy accident. In ambulance
Nick (16:24): Oh my god. Call me if you need anything!
…receive phone call from Nick; I ask EMT in ambulance if I’m allowed to answer; they say to keep it brief; I explain to Nick that I’m mostly intact, and things are under control.
Nick (16:35): Do you need me to contact anyone for you?
Me (16:35): It’s not too bad. Drunk driver went through red in front of me, I laid down at 20-25mph, messed up ankle, hip. You shouldn’t have to miss the show, though.
Nick (16:36): No one to go with. Need a ride home/ help walking upstairs?
David (16:38): Brian would go with you, prolly, if you want. [phone number]. I can prolly arrange to hand someone my keys.
Nick (16:39): No, its fine. Do you need anything? Food? Company?
David (unknown): [sent this photo of my bloody side wound; click at your own risk]
Nick (17:25): Ouch. You staying there overnight?
David (17:26): Doubt it. Gonna get x-rays soon, but I can’t imagine anything they’d find to necessitate that.
Nick (17:28): K. Need a lift?
David (17:31): It’s only a couple blocks, so I imagine I’ll be ok. It’d be dumb for you to drive from slp for that :-P. But thanks for the offer. Sorry to ruin your plans.
Nick (17:33): You’re gonna walk? I disapprove.
…receive phone call from Nick who tries to insist on giving me a ride home; I refuse; his mother (who I know, having been friends with Nick since middle school) grabs the phone, and saysIf you don’t let Nick give you a ride home from the hospital, I am going to come to the hospital.I relent.
Brian (19:08): you know about root city tonight?
David (19:09): Yeah. Bunker’s. $6ish cover charge. Prolly 10 PMish.
Brian (19:14): True.
Brian (21:23): Didn’t know if you were coming but it is indeed 6 bucks.
David (21:24): Yup. On my way now. See ya soon!
That explains almost everything, except that during the post-x-ray phone call, I explained the x-ray had revealed dual malleolus fractures in my right ankle. Also, Root City is a local band, and Bunker’s is a local bar. I think I left the hospital, on crutches, around 20:15 (begrudgingly with Nick’s help). We went back to my place, where Nick was really generous and rolled my motorcycle ~100 feet up a slight hill, then another 250 feet to my parking space, which I admit I probably would have been unable to accomplish in my state. (Thanks, Nick.) Determined not to let a silly little thing like a broken ankle and hip abrasion ruin Nick’s and my evening / original plans to see a concert, I did my best to shower, got dressed, maybe ate a peanut butter sandwich, and then we went to Bunker’s bar to meet up with Brian and catch the band.
At the bar, I 1. got a lot of attention from random women, and 2. met Brian’s friend, Jessica S. (Pro tip: go get injured, narrowly avoiding death, and then go out to the bar if you want a great conversation starter / magnet. Had circumstances been different, I’m confident I could have easily left with a new date and/or several phone numbers, which isn’t usually my area of expertise, but I’d just started dating Mary, so just told my story a number of times, and happily explained I was already spoken for.) But Jessica and I really clicked, and became fast friends that night (and she was also already in a relationship, so there wasn’t any
conflict of interest). That friendship has endured through the time of this writing, so I do cite that as one really good thing that came out of my motorcycle accident / broken ankle, since otherwise I would have been at the Mute Math concert, and not met her.
Mary was out of town that weekend to attend a friend’s wedding in Wisconsin. I knew there was nothing she could do at the time, and I was fine, so I chose to spare her the unnecessary stress by telling her only that
I have an exciting story to tell you when you get back. Upon her return, I initially sort of concealed my crutches and injury when I opened the door to greet her, because I’m funny like that. (She didn’t laugh.) After she caught sight of them / saw I didn’t have any weight on one ankle, her expression turned some shade of horror/concern. I told her the whole story, explained why I hadn’t told her earlier, and while she was initially really scared about how much worse things could have been if I’d been half a second earlier into the intersection or a quarter second slower to react, and angry for not telling her right away, she soon focused on being glad things turned out so well, and that I was in such relatively good condition.
Although I think I met her during winter/spring of 2005, I’d grown much closer to my friend Naomi starting the summer of 2008, and things continued that direction during 2009. We alternatively hosted Monday Night Dinner, hung out a bunch, went out to bars, and talked about anything/everything; I tell people that my relationship with her is what I believe it’s like to be very close to a sibling, and, in fact, sometimes tell people she’s my little sister. Very sadly for me, and with mixed emotions for her, Naomi left Minnesota on August 30, 2009 to begin a PhD program at Caltech. We hung out a lot as her departure approached, and stayed up talking past sunrise, long after everyone else had left her going-away party. I really missed her (and still do), but she came back to Minneapolis for a few days around Christmas (on her way to/from Madison to see her family), which I used as a good excuse to throw a party.
It turns out, I didn’t do very well to make this concise. Depending on how you measure, I might be approaching the 6000-word mark now. So much for
I’m going to try to cover the first two of those years in about four paragraphs. Rather than pushing this single post into the territory of double-digit page count, I’m going to cut it off here, and start another for 2010-2011. Tune in soon! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share comments below.