2021 has been one of the hardest years of my life.

In June, I hurt my back from incorrectly massaging a knot out of my back with a foam roller, as silly as it sounds. I believe I pinched a nerve (I never did an MRI to confirm).

The pain was incredible. No matter what position I was in - laying on my back, laying on my stomach, standing, or sitting, it was extremely painful. The pain expanded to my chest and I went to the hospital to get some tests done. Luckily, nothing life-threatening, and I was prescribed pain medication.

But the pain medicine wasn’t enough. I did several doctor office visits to try and understand what had happened and what exact treatment I needed. But no one could tell me what was going on.

The pain was so great and constant I could hardly do anything. I couldn’t stay in any one position for long. I couldn’t go on car rides for very long. I couldn’t sit in a chair to work (or even play video games). I couldn’t sleep without tossing and turning every 30 minutes. I had to sleep on the couch for months to not affect Deanna’s sleep.

At one point I had nearly given up hope that I would never get better and I would be in pain for the rest of my life. I would’ve rather died than live like that.

Luckily, I found a physical therapist who was able to eliminate about 80% of the pain through deep massaging, cupping, chiropractic spine adjustments, stretching, and using a machine that stretched my neck as if it was going to rip my head off my body.

Even with most of the pain gone, I still feel it every day. Even as I write this in July 2022, I am in pain. I thought the pain was slowly going away, but it has never fully went away and now I need to reschedule a series of physical therapy appointments.

But this injury has given me perspective. There are so many people in the world that have it far worse than I did, yet they have the strength to carry on. It’s interesting that on the scale of the worst injuries or losses one could incur, mine was pretty low on that scale. I’ve always had a fortunate and comfortable life, and I think the gap between someone’s normal and their injury is an important consideration when determining one’s resolve. While I think this logic has some merit and is interesting to think about, I can also think of several scenarios that show some people can endure incredible difficulties when many can’t perceive themselves capable of the same.

Because of my injury, I didn’t do a whole lot this year, but there were some other things that happened I’d like to remember.

New job at Codecademy

Almost immediately after I hurt my back, I started the interview process. This was before I was able to get any relief from physical therapy. I remember having to do my video interview calls on my knees because it hurt to sit in my chair and in between rounds I was icing my back on the floor.

Despite that, I was given an offer to join their B2B as a Senior Paid Marketing Manager and I accepted.

I actually used Codecademy ages ago to start learning html and css. I love to build websites with code and I’ve been enjoying learning JavaScript, so it’s really cool to work for a company whose product I’ve used and like, and is in the education space.

My new coworkers and I
My new coworkers and I

Again, I’m writing this in July 2022 so I’ve been working for Codecademy for a year now and so far it’s been great.

Went to New York City

Right as I was joining, Codecademy was celebrating their 10 year anniversary and wanted to fly everyone out to their HQ in NYC. This was my second time in NYC and loved it just as much as last time.

New York City's One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States
New York City's One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States

This time, I was able to visit the world trade center 9/11 memorial. It was a somber experience, and it was surprising how small the area was of each buildings footprint.

The original World Trade Center 9/11 memorial
The original World Trade Center 9/11 memorial

Espresso

Early in the year, I bought a rocket appartamento espresso machine, a niche coffee grinder and some accessories.

My new Rocket Appartamento and Niche coffee grinder
My new Rocket Appartamento and Niche coffee grinder
Item Cost
Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine $1,750.00
Niche Coffee Grinder $735.77
Acaia Lunar Smart Espresso Scale $242.44
notNeutral 6 Piece Glassware Set $141.10
Total $2,869.31

This has been one of the best purchases, or rather investments, I’ve ever made. No, it doesn’t make or save me money, but I get a lot of enjoyment from making and drinking high quality espresso-based drinks every morning.

Computer

Another big purchase I made this year was getting a gaming pc. I thought about building my own, but I knew nothing about pc components so I went with a top of the line pre-built from Corsair.

My new Corsair pre-built gaming pc
My new Corsair pre-built gaming pc
PC Build Specs
MSI Z490-A Pro Motherboard
Intel Core i9-10850k CPU
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 GPU
4x 16GB Corsair DDR4 3200MHz Memory
2x 2TB M.2 NVME SSD Storage
Corsair 1000W PSU
Item Cost
Corsair i7200 Vengeance Pre-Built PC $4,740.99
Glorious GMMK Pro Mechanical Keyboard $314.93
Alienware 24.5” 240Hz IPS Monitor $360.55
Monitor Arm $31.30
Logitech MX Vertical Wireless Mouse $103.43
Total $5,551.20

So yeah, I’m still gaming and really enjoying it. Here’s what I’ve been playing in 2021:

  1. Call of Duty Warzone
  2. Civilization VI
  3. Humankind

But I’m playing Warzone the most by far. The difference in performance and experience from an XBOX Series X is incredible - to the point where it feels like I’m even playing a whole new game.

It’s also helped me get way better at the game. I set up OBS, a screen recording program, to capture my gameplay. For a bit, I made some gameplay videos I uploaded to YouTube, but kind of lost interest in that as hardly anyone watched most of them.

After getting everything set up, I started to use the pc as my main computer. I’m starting to like windows 11, and don’t really miss using mac os at all.

Goals?

So I don’t really care about the goals I had set in 2020, or rather I don’t really care about hitting the goals. I’m just trying to do enough to get by financially and spend the rest of my time on things I enjoy.

Sometime that is reading. Sometimes it’s writing or coding. And sometimes it’s gaming and watching tv.

This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working on improving myself, I still am. What I’m starting to ask myself is to what end will I achieve by always working on improving, growing, and getting better?

More money to have what? I feel fine with how much money I’m making. I don’t think making more will add anything to my happiness or tranquility.

As said in one of my favorite quotes, the desire to always want more is what makes one poor. Obviously there is a floor of minimum needs for this quote to be true, but I’m well above that floor. I’m happy with that I have and the less I crave more things, the longer I can hold on to that happiness.