I had not intended to make a regular thing of summarizing my year. I wrote the post on 2011 because that was a particularly bad year, and I had things I wanted to work through the only way I know how–by writing about them. This year, however, turned out to be exceptional in precisely the opposite sense as last year–a lot of wonderful things happened in my life and in the lives of those important to me.
Of course, 2012 was always going to be an exceptional year for me in one important way–my wedding was set for August 25th, meaning that the whole process would characterize two-thirds of the year. That would have been enough to make it an exceptional year. But a lot of other stuff happened, and once again I cannot curb my compulsion to write about it.
Losing a Friend
2012 did not start well, as Tiger, our old family dog, passed away.
Can this be compared to the losses my family experienced the year before? Of course not.
But Tiger was almost 12 years old. He is the only dog for which it could conceivably said that we grew up together. You can certainly say it for my sister and brother, who are much younger than I and were quite small when he was a puppy.
It’s hard to describe how I felt about losing him. You get this little creature when he is only a few weeks old, and you watch him grow up. Then you watch him grow old. And you know, you always know, that he will be gone long before you have come anywhere near growing old yourself. Why do we put ourselves through this, again and again?
But of course, I will put myself through it again. There isn’t any reason I could articulate for what makes it worth it. But I could never say that getting Tiger was the wrong choice.
But that was in early January. Though I wanted to mention him, my brain has arbitrarily lumped his passing into 2011.
What 2012 was really about was getting married.
In a way, it was appropriate that our wedding fell on an election year. Turns out that planning a wedding is a bit of a political process.
I think I was more prepared than most, as my dad has been warning me about what wedding planning is like for basically as long as I’ve been alive. Still, laughing at old stories about the planning of my parents’ wedding is rather different from living the reality of planning my own.
Choices and responses that seem perfectly normal and acceptable under any other circumstances are suddenly imbued with significance. Decisions made for purely practical reasons come off as signals about how important you consider someone to be in your life. Tensions run high. Throw in all the logistical fun of planning any big event, and you’ll get the general picture–for those of you who aren’t already all too familiar with this process.
In the end, it was the happiest day of my life so far.
We lucked out in so many dimensions.
The weather was perfect–it was the best week of weather in the Boston area of the whole summer. There were no last minute logistical disasters. Our justice of the peace, bless her, was fantastic and entertaining. My friend and groomsman Alex brewed a special beer for the occasion–which was tremendously popular–and created a label using a picture of us taken by his wife Marley. Our dads knocked everyone’s socks off with their fantastic speeches. Her maid of honor gave an equally eloquent speech, and my best man embarrassed the hell out of me, as was his duty.
For all the stress of getting there, weddings, when they go well, are truly wonderful. So many people, from so many different times and parts of our lives, all come together. I have always known that I was exceptionally lucky for the family that I was born into, but I have been equally lucky in my friends. And I am unbelievably lucky in who I was standing next to, in front of all those friends and family, on that very day.
It was over in the blink of an eye, and then I was a husband, and I had a wife.
Still processing that one.
One of my favorite things about the wedding was seeing people from different parts of my life meeting one another. Also, seeing Internet friends meet each other–one of whom I met in person for the first time that day!
The next day, Catherine and I flew off to Paris to enjoy our honeymoon for a week and a half.
A New Job and New York
The time relaxing in Paris was just what the doctor ordered, because as soon as we returned to DC we had to shift gears and find an apartment in New York to move into by the end of the month.
Way back on March 31st, Catherine and I had taken a bus up to New York to stay with some friends for the weekend. A strangely large number of our friends had moved there recently, so we thought it high time to go up and spend some time with them. We stayed with Peter and Jordan, two good friends of ours (Peter was my best man). We didn’t do any tourist things, really–we lived life like our New York friends did for a couple of days.
It was a lot of fun. Neither of us had had any interest in living in New York before, but on the bus ride home, we discovered that we had each been swayed by seeing the residential side of it. We had no reason to move to New York, but for the first time we had come away feeling like we could see ourselves living there.
That very week I received an email from Eric Litman asking if I’d be interested in talking about a position at Medialets, a company based in New York.
The details of how this came about are very strange, and if you’re curious you can read about it here. Suffice to say that a blog post written four years prior and connecting to Eric on LinkedIn more recently were partly responsible for the opportunity.
It turned out to be a tremendous opportunity, in many dimensions. At the outset of the year, I thought I wanted to move in a more academic direction–hence my unfulfilled goal of trying to get a paper published. But Medialets oozes ambition, in a way that no company I’ve ever worked for has. It is in the middle of a rapidly changing industry–I doubt that by December of 2013 the company or the industry will look much like they do today. And Eric offered me a chance to be a part of that.
It has been very exciting, and between the nature of the job and the added move to a new city, it added an extra level of chaos to a year already beset by wedding planning.
The folks at Medialets were kind enough not to make me move until after my wedding. The first three months would be spent mostly working from home, and then coming up by train every other week for 2-3 days at a time.
This was mostly exciting at first, especially when they brought me up for my whole first week and also paid for Catherine to come, too. However, after a while, that kind of regular travel gets to be a bit much.
Throw in the fact that we needed to go to Massachusetts at least once this year to settle some wedding planning matters in person, and all that travel got to be downright tiring.
By the time we moved to New York, I was ready for the transition. As ready as I was going to be, anyway. With the help of a broker, I ended up seeing over 20 apartments; half of which I saw during my last trip up in September. We ended up in the Upper West Side, and have been pretty happy with the place.
It’s only been three months, but we already feel strangely comfortable in Manhattan. As someone who has had to be driven or drive everywhere for pretty much my whole life, it felt weird to sell off my car before we moved here. But it’s just so ridiculously easy to get around here without one (not to mention that I couldn’t exactly afford to keep one in some Manhattan garage!).
It’s too soon for me to write up all of my feelings about living in New York. Perhaps I will save it for another post, after I’ve lived here longer. But aside from two years in which my dad worked at the embassy in Paraguay, I have never lived anywhere but the DC area. And I have never lived more than a 30 minute drive from my immediate family. This was a big change, right on the heels of getting married.
We also ended up being in New York at a rather peculiar time.
Sandy: A Weeklong Interlude
We had been in New York for almost exactly a month. We had spent time with our friends who lived here. My parents had visited. The weekend before the storm, some friends from Virginia had visited.
We had just begun to settle into our new routines when Sandy came along and put half the city in the dark, to say nothing of the flooding.
We were very lucky. We’re way up in the 90s on the Upper West; the land is quite elevated and we never lost power. The businesses in our area never really closed, save perhaps during the height of the storm (though it isn’t like we were going out to check at that point).
Peter and Jordan live down in the 30’s on the east side; they lost power and running water. So they crashed with us for a few days.
That week was very strange. Medialets’ office was without power as well, though for me this was a moot point since I couldn’t really get to it without the subway. Since we had power, and since the nature of my work allows me to work from home easily, I thought I’d be pretty productive.
It didn’t quite work out that way. It wasn’t just the office; half of my coworkers didn’t have access to power or an Internet connection. Still, a lot of my job involves contact with people at other companies. I thought there was a good chance I’d be able to make progress with them.
Those people are all at ad agencies, ad tech companies, or media companies, though. Guess where nearly all of them were located? Lower Manhattan.
So I stayed online during the day and did what I could, working off of a system that was, at the time, diesel-fueled. Catherine continued to work from home as she normally would, for she was working remotely for the company in Virginia that she had been working for when we lived in DC. Jordan did what she could as well, and Peter caught up on his law school readings.
I really enjoyed having Peter and Jordan over, though I suspect that everyone but me grew a little tired of the close confinement. It turns out that my brain was wired for some kind of wolf pack mentality, where I’m happiest when I have my friends all in one space where we’re together all the time. So I had a great time.
It bears repeating just how lucky we were. Many people lost their homes to Sandy, some tragically lost even their lives. We lost access to the subway for a few days and gained some company, and then everything basically went back to normal.
Still it was a bit crazy to have this happen a mere month after moving here!
Another New Job
And since we hadn’t packed enough change into one year, Catherine went and got herself a new job as well!
Having the choice to work remotely was great when we were moving. If looking for an apartment at the eleventh hour was stressful, having to find the means to pay for it would have been more than doubly so!
But for a number of reasons it made sense to look for a job here. And the turnaround was amazingly fast–they reached out to her on a Monday and had made her an offer by that Friday.
Suffice to say that January of 2013 will begin with both of us working different jobs, in a different city, and with a different marital status than we had in January of 2012.
Though not as exciting as everything else that was going on, this was a particularly fun year of blogging.
The most exciting thing to happen was that Stories of Progress and Stagnation was linked to by a few big econ blogs–including Marginal Revolution and the Economist’s Free Exchange blog–leading to a few thousand views. A big deal for a blog that gets a couple dozen views on a good day!
I wrote the piece mostly because I had a lot of stories that seemed persuasive to me, only they basically contradicted each other. It was a simple case of thinking through writing. I certainly wasn’t trying to make an argument.
Interestingly, most commenters seemed to think that I was arguing for one or the other of the stories. Even Robin Hanson clearly believed this:
You write well Adam, but in the end I’m not persuaded. You push me toward accepting Cowen et al’s position, at least for rich nations for now.
Implying that I was arguing against the stagnationist point of view. Several other commenters, on the other hand, seemed contemptuous of my apparently hard-line stagnationist position!
I’m still not sure whether this division is a sign of the failure, or proof of the success, of my writing in this instance. But in any case I enjoyed my fifteen minutes of elevated attention.
Though nearly all of my posts this year were basically intellectual storytelling, the one that was by far the most fun to write was My Love Letter to Video Games. Over the years it has increasingly become clear that gaming is not just something you do in your home; it’s part of who you are, and it ties you to other people no less than loyalty to a sports team. In any case I used this as an excuse to take a trip down memory lane.
2012 was a year I’ll never forget, but I’m hoping the next one will be much less eventful. I’m ready for a little more peace, and a little less excitement.
Of course, I’ve also ended up in an industry that is changing at an insane pace. So, in my professional life, “peaceful” is probably not the adjective of choice.
But I’ll settle for being in the same city, with the same jobs, by this time next year!