2018 Year in Review

As you get older, each year is supposed to feel shorter because each year is a smaller and smaller part of your life. A year to my three-year-old nieces is about 33% of their life. A year for me at 33, on other hand, is 3% of my life.

And yet, this year felt soooooo long. So much so that by the time I sat down to write this, I’d forgotten that some of these things happened in 2018.

Quidditch

Most of my readers have found me because of nerd sports, so it’s only fitting that I start here.

Silicon Valley Skrewts

Last season, I got to experience qualifying the hard way with the team, giving me the complete Skrewts experience. It was also technically my first full season as a Skrewt, since my first season in red and black featured my notorious hiatus.

And you know what? It was pretty rough sometimes. Starting the season 0-7, including a miserable Crimson Cup that was my idea, was no way to start a season that we knew hinged on our ability to get an at-large bid. We had our unbroken qualification streak hanging over our heads and the last thing I wanted was to be the one who broke it.

But we made it! That 0-7 streak was at least against teams that could bump up our strength of schedule, and we won enough games in 2018 to get us the last at-large bid. I got to on Day 2 for the second year in a row. While it ended in a typical Skrewts OT loss, it was nothing like our bitter Crimson Cup experience. It was a fun game to play in, and if you’re not having fun, you’re doing quidditch wrong. Shoutout to the Rain City Raptors for being the best opponents I could have asked for to end things.

And now? The team that meant so much to me, long before I started playing for them, is gone. There’s a reason I haven’t written about it yet. It happened so quickly that it’s still not real to me. I’ll let you know when the reality of it hits.

SJSU Quidditch

As if my Skrewts season wasn’t wild enough, coaching SJSU at the same time was an insane undertaking. I knew we had it in us to qualify, even if 2018 started with us dropping from a tournament because of numbers and getting around the state funding issue was still an open question.

I only have one regret. At regionals, the Skrewts and SJSU had one overlapping game on Day 2. My original plan was to coach if there was a conflict, but the Skrewts roster had taken some hits due to injury on Day 1, and so I felt I was needed more as a player. I trusted my team to handle themselves well against Cal.

I was right about SJSU and wrong about the Skrewts. I stayed on the bench for the whole game against the Farmers while my Spartans took the eventual regional champion to double overtime. (We had a habit of doing that last season, so don’t be surprised.) What I regret is not being there for a missed call in that second OT that impacted the outcome of the game. I appealed the game, but couldn’t get film to Gameplay in time. If I had been there, maybe I could have talked the ref into making the right call. If I wasn’t so busy immediately after regionals, maybe I could have gotten the film in faster.

Maybe maybe maybe. Cal would have still won regionals regardless — as they proved they deserved — but it would have felt good to know that we could punch above our weight class and win.

Then Amazon Quidditch happened, and I swear I will finish the blog post I have about that one of these days. Suffice it to say for now that it felt so incredibly validating leading a team that respected their badass ladies enough to rename the team after them. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get us to Nationals after we clinched our at-large bid, and quite frankly, no one else could do what I did. Me being on good terms with our club sports director and USQ helped make the impossible possible.

Then I got to watch my seniors finally take to the national stage, play in a lot of close games, and get the win for SJSU that wasn’t able to back in 2014. That made a whole season’s worth of white hair, frustrated tears, and miles driven from work to practice and back again feel like an easy price to pay.

But it wasn’t easy. I can’t ignore that it took a lot out of me, more than I expected. We need more female coaches. I was happy to be one, but I am even happier to see Kim Cheng follow in my footsteps with Hugo Quiroz. Together, the Spartans/Amazons built a team that respects every player regardless of their gender, and I don’t need to be there every second to make sure that the foundation I laid down is sound.

But you all know that if Spartan Quidditch calls, I’ll always answer.

San Francisco Argonauts

There’s an Argonauts goodbye post in the works for later this month, so I’ll only briefly touch on them here. (2018 was apparently the year of quidditch teams going defunct on me.)

Honestly, I was so ready to be retired and done with managing quidditch teams after getting two squads to US Quidditch Cup. That double season took a lot out of me, but I’d already committed to steering the Argo again, so I had to switch gears for the summer without taking a breather.

And honestly, it was a breather I desperately needed. Instead, I got to spend most of one series at the hospital, planned for a SuperSeries that didn’t happen, and then head to the Midwest to try and maintain my region’s dignity. I’ll be real: my second year as an MLQ manager was terrible compared to the first. I would not have come back if I had known what I was in for. Better to end on a high note.

But while it wasn’t always smooth sailing, I’m glad I went on one last voyage with this team, especially now that we know that it was the last one for all of us. These players are my friends. I’ve spent years playing with them and against them, running their tournaments, and trying to create quidditch worth playing in our area. They’re what brought me back, even if they drove me nuts sometimes.

And we finally #BeatLA (once, anyway), which is all a NorCal sports fiend like me can ask for.

Barcelos Knows Quidditch

Holy shit, this has been far more successful than I could have ever hoped. I’ve worked on and been paid for a quidditch event every month since October. Wild.

If anything, I was unprepared for how in demand a traveling, nonplaying tournament director would be. While I’ve had a few successful events so far, there have also been some hard cuts and failed attempts, too. Those didn’t make it to the blog, but I won’t pretend that there haven’t been stumbles.

Still, I want to take a moment to be grateful. All my quidditch experience (and good luck finding people who have worn more hats than me because that number is small but distinguished) has culminated into being able to say, “My experience is worth something and I deserve to be paid for it.” Not many people get paid to do what they love, and while this is nowhere near being a full-time job, it is extremely validating.

Next year, I want to keep myself from being overbooked. Too many events too close to one another is not a healthy strategy. I’m still working out this whole freelance TD thing, so thanks for bearing with me.

(But for now, don’t forget to sign up for #LadyCamp!)

Face Beat It

Much of what made 2018 feel so long were the losses that happened over the course of the year. I still can’t believe that we lost Sarah Goad this April. It’s easy to forget that she’s gone because I only saw her once a year.

So when she wasn’t there, as busy as I was… it was an inescapable absence. Luckily, I had the rest of the Face Beat It staff to lean on. She brought us together. She made me believe that I could write and talk about quidditch beyond my blog. Because of her, I have a regular podcast with one of the first men to respect my opinion about quidditch, Ryan Smythe. Because of her, I have a semi-regular column/podcast series where I get to talk about quidditch beyond the pitch.

And because of her, I have a group of friends willing to cross the country to help me with tournaments (hi, Bruce and Marissa), secretly help each other crash the MLQ Championships (hi, Ali and Karissa), and bring me beer from the Northwest (hi, Mitch).

Thanks, Sarah, for everything. I hope we’re all doing you proud.

Travel

I traveled more last year and saw more of the country than I ever have before. I started the year watching snow fall in Salt Lake City and went back in the summer. I drove to Los Angeles more times than I care to count. I went to Disneyland more times in one year than I have in the rest of my lifetime. I visited Austin, Chicago, and Madison for the first time, made a long-desired return to Portland, and ended the year at a quidditch wedding in Houston.

I’m so lucky that quidditch has allowed me to see so much of the country. While I always planned on blogging about my travels, I was so busy with nerd sports that it didn’t really work out. But since I’ve stepped back from a lot of my quidditch responsibilities, I’ve finally been able to do more travel blogging, and I really enjoy it! Expect to see more in the coming year.

Beauty and Style

I wrote less about fashion last year, largely because my writing was a large part of my process of figuring out my style. I know what I like now, so posts like Stitch Fix reviews have fallen away in favor of me trying to clear out my wardrobe and focus on only buying things I need. That’s had some mixed results, but I am looking forward to working on more fashion posts in 2019.

“Exploring through writing” probably explains why I started writing less about clothes and more about beauty in 2018. I went through a similar cycle, too: writing about subscription boxes before transitioning to more thought out posts. I even started a separate Instagram just for beauty content! Makeup was never something I was really into when I was younger, but I enjoy the creative outlet it grants me every morning.  

Life

Tracking my resolutions over the course of the year wound up being a far more powerful motivation tool than I could have ever expected. Did I keep all of them? Nah. But I was mindful of them for twelve months, which isn’t something I could have said about myself until last year. I plan on doing that again in 2019 with an updated set of resolutions, so stay tuned for that.

On the career front, my 2018 started with some soul searching before sliding into stagnation. I quit the Town Crier last winter and prepared to head back to the classroom, only to get cold feet again. Breaking down over being an overworked and underpaid reporter didn’t mean that being an overworked and underpaid teacher was the answer.

I’ve been working a part-time job that I love for most of 2018, barring a month or so trying to hold down a second job where — surprise! — the pay was nowhere near equal to the demands of the position. I am very lucky to have a partner that’s been able to support me emotionally and financially in my quest for a job that doesn’t suck, but life in Silicon Valley is not sustainable on one and a half salaries. I need to be a better partner, and that means doubling down on the job hunt.

I, on the other hand, could not ask for a better partner than Jim. He supports me in everything I do. He believes in me when I doubt myself (which is often), listens to me when I need someone to hear me out, and is the probably the only person on this earth able to talk me out of things I need to be talked out of.

I don’t write about him and our relationship much here, but he has accomplished so much in the past year. His public service career is off to a wonderful start, but he’s also stayed true to his values and helped so many people since joining the Silicon Valley DSA. Jim has grown into an even better man than the one I fell in love with, and I am so happy that I get to spend my days with someone who inspires me to be my best self.

He also reads almost everything I post, so hi. I love you.

Looking ahead to 2019…

I know I want to be more disciplined about my writing and my career. With the former, I’ve already calendared out my first six weeks of blog posts for 2019! My goal is to post twice a week.

However, I also want to be kinder to myself. I worked myself to the edge of burnout more than once last year, and that’s just not sustainable. I want to carve out more quiet time in the coming year instead of filling every gap in my calendar to make me feel fulfilled.

Whether you only check out my quidditch posts or you’ve been a loyal reader for 200 blogs and counting, thanks for coming along for the ride.

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