2014

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life travel

A little late, but this is my 2014 Year in Review. It’s so hard to summarize an entire year into a few paragraphs and a handful of selected photos. I’ve spent hours over the last few weeks going through photos and videos that I took the year, some of which I’m looking through for the first time. I’m reminded of all the trips taken and places seen, some which seem so long ago but most just seem a few months ago, even if they were from the beginning of 2014. Time flies by as it always does, and the process of writing my Year in Review posts helps cement in my memory the things that I think ought to be remembered. So here goes…

Travel:

  • Vietnam 119-125
  • NYC-Austin 22
  • AUS->CHS 524
  • CHS->LAS 528
  • AUS->PDX - 620
  • AUS->JFK
  • Big Bend 1024
  • AUS->CHS 1225

Notable Restaurants:

  • Eleven Madison Park - 17
  • QUI 34
  • Peninsula Grill 526
  • Estiatorio Milos 530
  • Starlight Theater

Random:

  • Snowboarding at Mount Snow 116
  • ROIKOI SXSW 38
  • Last workday at BV - 617
  • Last BV all-hands - 619
  • Ecola State Park - 621
  • Redwood National Park - 625
  • Carter Lake National Park - 627
  • J&J from Ireland on 73
  • Last day at BV - 73
  • ROIKOI - 77

2014 was a year of transition and change. In January, my stint working out of Bazaarvoice’s NYC office came to an end, as planned. Getting to spend 6 months in Brooklyn was such a fantastic experience. We got to really learn the city beyond the weekend here and there that we previously experienced as tourists. We spent most of January revisiting our favorite NYC places - restaurants, parks, museums, stores, etc, while casually planning our move back to Austin.

About a week before the movers were supposed to come, however, I received some saddening news - my grandmother in Vietnam passed away.

My grandmother was one of my last remaining strong connections to Vietnam. She was born in the rural Mekong Delta, in the deep south of Vietnam, and never ventured very far from her ancestral lands. Late in life, however, she became somewhat of a jetsetter. She shuttled back and forth between Vietnam and the U.S. as she strove to spend time with her children and grandchildren, divided by a hemisphere. She never became comfortable with life in the U.S., where everyone worked constantly and going to buy vegetables required a vehicle. Conflicted with choosing one set of grandchildren over another, she eventually decided to return to Vietnam for good. There she could spend slow days in her hammock, enjoying the warm breeze rustling through the coconut and orange trees surrounding her house.

We where in the process of moving from NYC back to Austin when I learned of her passing, but I knew I had to go to Vietnam for her funeral.

I left NYC on the 19th of January and arrived on the 21st in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. If one wants to experience awe at the rate at which an entire nation can be transformed, just go to Vietnam every couple of years. My first trip back to Vietnam as an adult in 1999 required driving on single-lane rural roads shared with pedestrians, bicyclists, and families of 5 on single mopeds, and two separate ferry trips. This time there was a brand new, 6-lane, elevated highway with modern bridges that cut through the rural countryside, the type of picturesque landscape of rice fields with farmers in straw cone hats and water buffalo that one sees on postcards of Vietnam. After three days of ceremony involving multiple feasts, chanting monks, and even fire-breathing, snake-charming performers (deserving of its own blog post), I flew back to NYC on the 25th in order to finish the move back to Austin. It was a whirlwind trip.

Back in NYC, we packed the last of our things and spent the final weekend in a hotel soaking in final bits of NYC as tourists, like finally doing the (old City Hall stop via the 6 train loop)[http://jalopnik.com/5684329/how-to-see-new-yorks-secret-city-hall-subway-stop].

We easily settled back into our old house and old life in Austin. It was really interesting to watch Finn walk into our house, to see how much of it he remembered. As with things intimately familiar, we found the grooves of our past Austin lives easily, in our favorite restaurants and in the company of our old Austin friends.

It would be a few months later when I found the siren of startup life call my name, and this time I could not resist any further. I left BV, the longest place I’ve ever worked, to work on roikoi.com, which at the time was just a questionable idea with a significant amount of funding. ROIKOI made an already eventful year even more exciting.