Year & Decade

I'm a bit late with this, perhaps appropriately enough.

I've read a few of these year and decade reviews now, some are really detailed, some are brief summaries. I guess it depends on what you feel comfortable putting online. In that sense at least my decade ends with less oversharing than it started with, for all sorts of reasons. So, some of this is about the last year, some the last decade, all mushed up.

I got married early in the decade. I can only begin to describe how fortunate I am to have met him, and being married to him really is the best thing. I'd lived in Brighton all my adult life but thanks to buy-to-let and greedy landlords I'd given up on ever being able to afford to buy somewhere there. My husband is from Wales and we'd had a vague plan to move there at some point, so we did that, bought a house and on-and-off have been doing it up. It's kind of stalled because shitting hell building work is expensive, but we will get the kitchen done this decade. I hope.

I started the decade freelancing, ended working remotely full time in an in-house design team. While freelancing I'd missed the ability to follow things through, to have continuity and depth in a design process, to solve problems that occur later on as the product is built. That's pretty much what I have now, but even so, in an in-house team you still don't always get to finish what you started, and you occasionally get to the stage of "Wait, we've already designed this a couple of years ago" when an 'aspirational' part of an earlier feature becomes an essential one. The frustration of it is leavened by the sense of pulling a design rabbit out of the hat ta-daaa when you dig out the old project. As an aside, using (link: text: Abstract) really helps with that, I recommend it.

Working remotely is interesting. It forces on you the same kind of discipline that freelancing does, but with more communication to manage. With freelancing you usually have a single contact at the client and all communication is with them. When in a team, you have to maintain the conversations with everyone, and because you're the one not in the office, a lot of that is on you to manage. For me the biggest downside of remote working is the lack of serendipitious communication, the things you overhear in an office that increase your awareness of what's going on with everyone else. I've had at least one major upset because a problem was brewing but I couldn't possibly have known about it because of that. Things need to be more deliberate working remotely. As it turns out the company is moving to a more distributed model with staff working remotely for most of the week. Everyone will be in the same situation at least some of the time and will see what it's like on the other side of the video conference screen.

I've had a few health problems this decade, some caused by stress, some by lack of self-care, some by… I dunno. I've never been ill before other than the odd bout of flu or whatever, nothing that meant going to hospital (though, thankfully, not as an in-patient yet) so it's been a new experience. The NHS is amazing, and universal healthcare should be written into every country's constitution. When I see these fundraising drives in America to pay for what should be basic healthcare I feel sick and angry that there are many people in the world who are fine with illness being a profit-making opportunity. I'm not religious, but if there was ever a definition of evil, that would be it.

I suppose related to work and health, my design blog Ministry of Type has been dormant now for half a decade. I keep meaning to get it going again, but I get a kind of paralysis of anxiety about whether it'd be good enough. Ridiculous I know, just do it and all that, but… ehh. I also worry about saying things to a wider audience again. There are some terrible people out there, just itching for a fight. I'm not talking about angry decent people calling you out for bias or unacknowledged privilege and so on, but actual shitheads dragging the world down to hell.

Talking of that, there's the climate crisis, the rise of the right-wing (again) and feels-like-a-sideshow-now Brexit. When the exit poll came up for the general election I felt angry and disappointed of course, but also a sense of relief. A sense that it's gone, out of our hands, we tried. We still have to deal with the consequences and rejoining (or independence for Wales then rejoining the EU) but for now, it seems like there's not much we can do. I was retweeting far too much politics stuff before, and what good did it do. Enough of that, for now.

Do I have resolutions? No, not really. Just a few things I keep meaning to do and never get around to. The old design blog for one, drawing more for another, sitting down and just reading some of the books I've bought, and so on. Also, I want to learn Welsh.