2021 Year review
2021 was both the more exhausting and relaxing year I experienced in my life.
And on the other side, I spent several weeks doing almost nothing at all. Not even working for money. Because, for 96% of the year I was payed an almost full salary by my company without working as single hour.
Renovation conflicts and the diabolic wooden floor
When 2020 finished I was two months into renovating an apartment I just bought. Overall it was going alright despite some bad surprises and a lot of work. But what I did not expect was how my relationship with the project manager handling some of the renovation was going to degrade. This guy was the most unreliable, unclear and dishonest person I ever worked with. He announced dates without respecting them. Promised to finish some work so electricians could do theirs, and did not deliver. And his guys were terrible. A door was badly positioned and is now askew. All the drywall they added was bulging. They added an entire drywall on rails and the wall was moving and trembling when pressed on.
But the worst thing is, they were the dirtiest people I ever met. They ruined the laminated floor by not protecting it. Plaster crusts everywhere, that took hours to be removed. When I told the project manager it was unacceptable, they cleaned it, but also completely soaked the floor, resulting in the floor bulging. When their work was finished I did not accept the reception PV and we had to find a middle ground to protect each of our sides.
In the end, upon discovering a wooden floor under the damaged laminated one, I decided to remove the latter. Which meant removing 60 square meters of planks from the fourth floor to my car. And then moving up by hand a 50kg sanding machine and spending a full day sanding the floor. And after that, once moved in, the floor was squeaking so much that my downstairs neighbor came to complain. So I had to drill dozens of holes in the floor, to then cut it where slats where rubbing each other. And then putting expansive foam under it so it stops moving and muffles the sound of the remaining squeaking.
It's 2022 and I haven't finished doing this for the whole apartment, which say how painfully slow this process is. And the plinths. The damn plinths.
The renovation benefactors
Fortunately, it wasn't just incompetent workers and unreliable project managers. My electrician and his guys were the kindest and more professional people ever. They redid the entire electric installation of the apartment on budget and on time despite several setbacks. They made extremely good suggestions, came to fix what was not working and overall, just rocked.
Another person that helped a lot was our... kitchen designer. I must admit that prior to this, kitchen hunting was not an activity I ever envisioned doing. Spending an afternoon going from one kitchen shop to another is not exactly fun, but we had the chance to meet a young seller/kitchen designer. Despite our limited budget he agreed to take on the project and did a very good job of balancing our demands.
Trusting him was one of the best decisions I made this year. He came, took measurements, prevented us from doing mistakes, quickly provided plans for the electricians so they could work without delay. When delivered (on the fourth floor, my god the poor delivery guys), the kitchen furniture was already assembled, which meant way less work. Everything was also super high quality and will last for at least a decade, maybe even two. Not going the cheap route bought me time, effort and peace of mind.
Finally, several friends came in. They helped sanding, moving super heavy things on the fourth floor. One of them even came a whole week to help me install a wooden floor on the balcony. Without them I would not have been able to achieve this.
Dads truly are something
But, if I have to be honest, the best man of my benefactors list was none other than my own dad. It sounds cliché that a dad would know how to do everything in a house. But damn, my dad really knows how to do everything in a house. Yet, he's a physically broken man. They had to operate his hands, reattach his shoulder, remove part of his spine, two times. So when he came to help me, I supposed we were going to take it slow.
Oh boy, that was not his plan at all. We did two 50 plus hours weeks of manual work. We installed the kitchen furniture and home appliances for three whole days. We spent all the rest doing the bathroom. Soldering pipes, gluing water evacuations, cutting cinder blocks, laying down the shower base, tiling walls, installing the furniture and sink, and so many other things I don't even remember.
And if not for him pushing me like this, this apartment would never have been ready for when we moved in. I expected this to took no more than a week and it took two plus several extra days after. Despite tiredness I enjoyed it a a lot. We had very good weather and spent our breaks on the balcony, eating and drinking under the sun.
We never spend so much time together since I was a kid and I think we both enjoyed it a lot.
The Gautoz project
What I did not explain before is how physically violent all this renovation work was. I hurt myself a lot during all those weeks. My back got blocked two times, my hands were damaged (the left one still is), my neck was sore all the time. I was often in pause due to physical or mental pain and in those moments is when I pursued some personal projects.
Early in the year I created Chisai for Gautoz. Gautoz is a former video game journalist extremely respected in the French industry. He decided to go independent on Twitch in 2021 and, outside of his stream, seemed to have nothing prepared. As I am not a big fan of streaming but enjoy a lot the way he covers video games, I offered to build him a website.
Chisai was originally built for him, but was then open sourced, given a name and even got a mascot that I commissioned to Chloé Stawski. It was the first time I was paying an artist for art and I'm glad it was her. Chisai has been adopted by a few people here and there, and I'm happy if it served them well.
While I was handling the website side of things, my good friend Yann Rieder took upon himself to create a podcast version of Gautoz livestreams (the fact that Yann, one if not the most respectful person in the French podcast scene, decided to help, says a lot about how valuable Gautoz's work is).
Then the pandemic started, and I thought that I should probably try to speed up things for Yann, who was getting way too much work during this period. Botoz, a set of Python scripts that create RSS feeds and mp3 files was born from this. Yann beta tested it for a few weeks and, later in the year, I totally automated the process.
Calling it done mid-year
We moved in the new apartment in late April, and I have to give credit to my partner for preparing it alone while juggling with work. We hired professional movers, as we knew we would not be able to move an entire apartment from the second to the fourth floor, without elevators, even with friends, in a reasonable time frame.
What followed were a few weeks of cleaning our old apartment, installing our stuff, getting used to live here, finishing touches there and there. I worked on Botoz, then started working on something I wanted for a long time: my own website redesign, and a design system!
I hired Atari to propose a few direction, we agreed on one, and then he went on designing while I started coding. The result, still ongoing, is the website you are looking at right now. I also add to rework Ronbun a few times to implement this new design. Later on, I commissioned Saskia Freeke to create some quirky icons, that I haven't had the time to implement yet.
I also mentored someone while doing a website for a friend, and also did some writing during this period and then...
I stopped. I just stopped.
Relaxing, and finding a new job
In late July and early August, I did nothing. Suddenly I am in my house and there's nothing critical left to do. I adapted this place to my needs, it's quiet, practical and comfy. I feel at ease here, in a way I haven't felt before.
I relaxed instead of keeping myself busy. I read books, I played video games in the couch (something that was impossible before because of the proximity between the living room and the bedrooms). I even took naps and spent some hours daydreaming.
Quite logically, relaxing means doing less personal projects. It shows in my time tracker. Once summer was over, the time I allocated to my projects decreased significantly. Outside of a big refactoring of Ronbun to mix content and time entries, most of the work I did was split in little chunks there and there.
Outside of a freelance gig I took for a few weeks (mostly because it was on the amazing Kirby CMS and I liked the client), and doing self teaching for my new job (that I got by shitposting on Twitter) I did almost nothing but having fun and relaxing until the end of the year.
And it felt so good.
Did I achieved my goals?
Most of them, yes!
- Work on art directed articles
- I did not, but worked on my own design system and content, so I take it as a success.
- A new portfolio
- I did it and it was a waste of time since it did not convince anyone.
- Write CSS guidelines
- Code less
- FAILED. I coded almost twice as much in 2021 than in 2020. If I have to work on something in 2022 it would be a way to post more easily on my website. Things like my drawings, thoughts, or evolve my time tracking system.
- MAKE ART
- I DID IT! I started taking Live model drawing lessons in Septembre, and it's been a blast. That's the most fun I have each week, my skills are improving and I even started drawing a little bit outside of lessons. Probably the biggest personal success of the year!
- WRITE FICTION
- I did some, but not much. Still, it's a start and I hope I can continue.
- Be responsible
- I think I succeeded. My partner had to handle a lot in 2020 and I think I managed to help her back in 2021. She's been improving and achieving her goals too, and also started to relax a lot more since we moved in.
- Oh yeah, don't worry, I relax.
- Draw more
- That's the one. I want to install a drawing corner in my home and draw more. I want to do more human bodies, muscles, portrait and erotica.
- Write more
- For now I'm only developing characters. I think it's more about thinking about doing it, because each time I engage in this activity it's actually going well.
- Engage in more unproductive activities
- My book and steam backlogs are ready and waiting for me, I'm not worried.
- Code less
- Since I have a new job that involves coding all day, I'll probably code less anyway. Most of it will be devoted to continuing my design system and my website.
- Explore more
- I want to continue growing into a more peculiar adult. Discover new things in life, dare to go out of bounds, and have fun.
See you next year!