I had a good day in San Francisco. I haven’t been here for a year (since I started at Airbnb - by the way, I just passed my one year anniversary at work this past week), but I flew down today to do some interview training and am now on the flight back to Seattle. We’re almost to our descent. I watched 3 episodes of Silicon Valley because it seemed appropriate. I had about 3 cups of coffee and a handful of Hi-Chews, so I’m doing surprisingly well for having woken up at 4am to catch my flight. I met a bunch of people from Dublin and Singapore and had a good conversation with a guy who studied psychological anthropology in college. I also got to meet up with some of the guys from the prayer group I’ve been praying with nearly every week for at least the last 6 months! And I talked to a guy who had a baby three months ago about how our mental capacity/aptitude has been affected by parenthood.
Figuring out how to deal with limited mental capacity has been a frustration and a challenge. I feel like, in anything I do, I’m no longer able to operate at 100%. It’s like 60% or 80% or something*, but a lot of the time, I’m just pretty tired. (To make matters worse, I don’t typically like doing things when I know it’s not at my 100%. I remember turning in my homework assignments a day late in high school because I wanted to do my best on them, rather than give 60% just to get it done.) It’s hard to read books or focus on things or even just go home after work and watch TV. It’s not uncommon to sleep before 10pm now. [Disclosure, the day after originally writing this, I went to sleep at 6:30pm.] I’ve talked to a few other parents who have corroborated the experience.
Tough/hard is not my primary description of parenthood. Being Nora’s dad is a source of great joy. She’s rolling over and sitting up and talking, cooing, yodeling… she’s grabbing Halloween candy out a bowl, she’s smiling at us when we pick her up in the middle of the night to change her diaper, she’s laughing when we kiss/eat her stomach or say “boo” behind a blanket. It’s a lot of fun, and often, I wish I was at home instead of being at work. I stop and look at her pictures on Instagram and re-watch the videos (and I’m so happy that Suzi has so diligently maintained it for the last 150 days!). There are nights I’m exhausted, but I still can’t help myself from picking her up and showing her things and kissing her. Often, the best part of my day is going home to be with my family after a day of work.
Anyways, this is supposed to be a recap post.
I had been feeling pretty overwhelmed/burdened at times. I definitely couldn’t do some of the things that I wanted to do, like run and program… I’ve also just felt less and less interested in hobbies. I had less desire/ability to read the Bible (a few times, I would open it up and just not be able to actually stop and focus and read it). I had less desire even to make coffee. I’m feeling all right currently/recently, but I definitely had some low moments where I just felt tired, unmotivated, and lonely.
Earlier in September, I bought another pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18s and started pushing some faster times and longer distances. I had a 6 mile run at 7:06 pace, which was pretty big for me, because i ended the run with a pair of 6:4x miles, which is something I don’t think I’ve done for years. So it was a big confidence booster to run some times I hadn’t run in quite a while, though I had also spent much of the last 2 years just trying to run without pain. I also started getting to the point where throwing in another mile wasn’t that big of a deal; there was one run in particular, where I set out to go for 5, and then midway through the run, decided to go for 6, then 7, then 8. I don’t think I’ve run much farther than 8 miles though, but I haven’t had all that much motivation or opportunity to push for it.
Nora poked my eye one morning and I ended up having to go to the optometrist. Turns out she cut my cornea! I had to wear a contact-lens bandaid and apply some antibiotics. It was more funny than serious, though I went through half a day of meetings squinting and rubbing my eye.
I finished a project at work and got to spend a lot more time in other languages (Scala, Ruby, Python). We have an espresso machine at work too, so I had a goal of being able to do latte art; I was making some progress, but lately, I haven’t been able to steam my milk correctly, and I really just use coffee for the caffeine. I hit a personal record of 4 cups of coffee one day.**
We spent a week in Tulsa with family. We even thought about extending our trip, it was that good. Grandparents were so happy to see Nora, and we were so happy to be able to hand her off and sleep longer when Nora would wake up early in the morning (one morning at Suzi’s, we actually gave Nora to her grandmother and proceeded to sleep for 3 more hours!). We got to check out some new places in Oklahoma (The Mercantile, the Pioneer Woman’s restaurant/bakery/coffeeshop/venue, like an hour away from Tulsa). We even drove to Arkansas one day for a family photo shoot (that’s like a 2.5 hour drive), so we’ll have some pretty legit Christmas photos this year (though the ones with Chieh and Angela and Maren were just as legit too).
I actually did find time to read, though, over the last 2 months. I finished reading The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher, The Minority Experience by Adrian Pei (previously Epic staff), and The New Coffee Rules by Jordan Michelman/Zachary Carlsen. I should cover the Minority Experience in a separate post, but it’s given me a lot more to think about in terms of my own experience growing up as a minority in the Midwest and a bit of insight into why I’ve felt the way I have over the last few years, even though I’ve been surrounded by more Asians in Seattle and even at Airbnb.
The New Coffee Rules was enjoyable for me, as someone who has been trying to get more into specialty coffee and started home-brewing. So much of what I know, I actually owe to Tim from CSBC. We had a few small groups where he brought his gear and I brought the coffee beans, and he’d walk me through the ratios, the grinding, the science behind how the coffee was brewing, different brewing methods, etc. We’d do French presses and V60s. Anyways, there’s also a guy on Youtube named Chris Baca who has been in the specialty coffee industry for a while, who had a video where he talked about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It talks about how coffee is produced at the global scale and gives a bunch of information and advice about brewing coffee at home and coffeeshop etiquette, as well as what goes on in the specialty coffee industry (how baristas were previously not very well respected, but now they are rising to the status of trade specialists, like sommeliers).
I also picked up The Airbnb Story and drank the kool-aid that is Airbnb. I actually take a ton of pride in working for Airbnb, and I’ve heard all sorts of people exclaim “I love Airbnb, I used them when I went to…” As a brand, they have really appealed to a new generation of travelers, and as a mission, “Belong everywhere” is definitely more compelling for me than “Make the world more open and connected.” I feel way more proud about Airbnb than I did about Facebook. The book talks about Airbnb’s founding story, some of its technical and operational challenges over the years (like what if someone’s Airbnb gets trashed?), some of the legislative battles it has had with cities and the hotel lobby, how Airbnb has changed the way we think about travel, and how the founders of Airbnb each led to its success. All three cofounders are actually all still at the company ten years after founding, which is unheard of for a startup of Airbnb’s size.
* I vaguely remember a quote from Leffen or Armada (professional Smash Bros players, both Swedish) that you can’t count on playing at 100% every set in a tournament - stuff will happen, tournaments can have hiccups, you can be battling jetlag, you could be playing games over the course of 12 hours - you’re rarely actually playing at your best. If you want to be able to win, you need your 80% to be better than everyone else.
** Though I was definitely drinking multiple rounds of coffee and Red Bulls when I was working at Facebook.