2009 was when I left my shell; this was when I hit everyone in the face harder than a bear falling off a trampoline the wrong way. This was when the shit got real, for a lot of people.
I’ve had friends online for the longest time; some of them I’ve known from my very earliest days of blogging. When I was invited to a CPAC after-party my Melissa Clouthier, I was prepared to meet some familiar faces. Some people I’ve known online for years but never met until then were James Joyner and Michelle Malkin. However, I was not prepared to meet my long-time friend, Val Prieto. I was just stretching my design muscles back in 2002, and I was glad to have someone I can give a free design to while helping me practice. To this day, his site design has remained unchanged. Meeting him and hearing the appreciation from him directly made me more confident with meeting people in real life.
To its credit, Twitter has a lot to do with the expansion of my social circle. For one, you cannot survive on Twitter without being authentic. Even manufactured authenticity is easy to see through in that medium. You have to be who you are, because if you meet with people after what they know of you online, there’s a kind of mental accounting that happens. There has to be a generous overlap, or else you’re a faker.
I enjoyed visiting friends, especially Ryan Duff in Harrisburg, as he has become a good friend and close professional compatriot. This year was also the year I attended three WordCamps: Raleigh, MidAtlantic, and Philly. Each of those events held their own unique significance.
WordCamp Raleigh was the first conference I spoke in; I was very nervous at first, especially with regards to the relevance of my talk, but I carried through and more than a few people have expressed their appreciation. The trip to Raleigh was also the longest road trip I’ve done so far, with me driving Aaron Brazell and Ryan Duff. It was where I was introduced to Matt Danner and Cory Miller of iThemes, and where I met Travis Ballard. I hung out with Brad Williams and the rest of the WebDev Studios crew. Professionally, Raleigh held a huge lesson in navigating what has become the thornier side of WordPress politics. It was a lesson in the power of ideas going negatively viral, where my thoughts could be taken by others and ran into a direction I never imagined nor intended.
My favorite moment of WordCamp Raleigh was finally—after knowing her for almost eight years online—meeting Lisa Sabin Wilson. My one regret is that I didn’t hug her long enough for all the times I owed her hugs over the time I’ve known her. The greatest of thanks, too, to Michael Torbert, who’s been a great friend over the past two years. He’s been the source of great perspective and has helped me keep my feet on the ground when I needed it the most.
Summer’s highlights included the Newsbusters Nerdprom, which celebrated its 5th anniversary. Another was the Glenn Beck Restoring Honor rally. I didn’t attend—I really wasn’t all that interested—the rally itself, but hanging out after at Rocket Billiards in DuPont with some of my best Twitter friends was one to remember. It was also great finally having a short hour or two at Julian Sanchez‘ place.
It was also great expanding my presence in Baltimore; mainly thanks to the Beer and Bacon Happy Hours at Bad Decisions. I’ve made some really great friends in the city and I’ve grown to like Baltimore’s vibe. Because of my visits I’ve resolved to make an effort to steer my professional life towards that area moreso than DC.
A year’s worth of memories cannot be fully recapped in one long, rambling blog post. It wouldn’t be fair to the people and events I’ve left out, and the more I try I know the more that those who’ve been passed over will be more prominent in their absence. In forgetting to mention some, I mean no insult. I do not hang on to the hope that a year will be better than the last; every day is an opportunity to do better, to break your personal records, whether in weightlifting or your career. I do know that while life will always throw challenges my way, 2010 has helped me be ready for many things.
I’m so ready for 2011. Bring it on.