(Thanks to @magnuson for the original tweet)
This is actually something I think about fairly often. When I give talks, I often mention where I came from, not only to illustrate that anyone can actively contribute to space exploration and scientific discovery, but also in hopes of finding other stories like mine. Stories about being overwhelmingly infatuated by communities of makers and changing your life/location to simply be surrounded by it. As a result, my life and the forces that drive me have radically changed over the course of 5 years, and more often than not, I seem to cross milestones the months of July/August.
I thought I’d briefly share where I was in each of the last 5 years in the months of July/August, in hopes of reading yours as well:
5 years ago, it was August 2006, I was working at a creative interactive agency in Kansas City, VML, that had been my dream job since the time I was 14. Despite being aware of just how late to the game I was when it came to blogging, I started my first blog, Shake Well Before Use, about the hybrids of art, advertising, sex + technology.
4 years ago in August, I took what I still consider to be the biggest leap of faith in my life – I left my job of 8 years and moved to San Francisco without another job lined up. The first “gig” I got was working at a new startup called Pownce, where I met Leah Culver, Kevin Rose, and Daniel Burka for the first time (all of whom greatly inspired me with just how much a tiny team could build). There were many reasons I chose SF, but a large influence had been meeting so many amazing people at SXSW 2007 who *made* all the things I usually just blogged about.
3 years ago in July/August, I was watching a documentary called When We Left Earth. I found it so inspiring that I took a shot in the dark and emailed NASA about wanting to work for them. Serendipitously, a job description had been crafted that very day that eerily read like my resume. I got the job. It changed my life forever.
2 years ago in July, I attended Sci Foo, an unconference of ~200 world renowned scientists, after receiving a highly coveted invite from the O’Reilly team. As an un-scientist I was a bit terrified, to be honest. But I survived and it drove me to speak out more publicly.
1 year ago in July, I rounded up 15 of the awesome friends and acquaintances I had made over the previous 4 years and we collectively started planning Science Hack Day San Francisco. Though the event didn’t take place in July/August, looking back, I think putting it together is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Science Hack Day is just awesome.
Today, I’m writing while on “half-vacation”. Half-vacation because in July/August of this year, I learned that the first grant proposal I had written had been awarded. Like working for NASA, I don’t think I had envisioned writing a grant proposal in my life. So, very happily, I’m now burning the midnight oil in Berlin, Paris and now Málaga, alongside the most lovely and awesome person (he came along ~2 years ago, but not in July/August). And yeah, it freaks me out to think where I was 5 years ago.