Year in Review 2019

Linda Liukas
Dec 30, 2019 · 14 min read

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver

2019 went past so quickly. I moved on in someways, moved backwards in others. There was work I would have liked to achieve and life I would have liked to live, but I think I’m starting to find vocabulary for both.

Or: I’m not very young anymore.

Or: there were more things I distinctly feel like I chose, including wallpapers, reading routines and people I spend time with.

Or: from little things, big things grow.

Here’s 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. And here is 2019:


  • Everything resets at New Year the Japanese believe. Started the year in Tokyo with champagne and R, A & P. Took a train to Hiroshima, Gunma and Kyoto. Played endless Uno, visited three kindergartens designed by Youji no Shiro (hoping I can work with them someday!) and the Teamlab Borderless exhibition. Fell in love with House of Ghibli. So much yakiniku and one izakaya that disappeared into the night like a myth. いちごいちえ.
  • Los Angeles for a few days with E & R, moving pieces, feeling invincible, running the Runyon Canyon and hanging out by the Hotel Roosevelt.
  • Celebrated A’s Super Mario themed birthday, had blinis on a cold day at M & V’s and went skiing with a taxi. Saw Three Sisters in Kansallisteatteri.
  • Workwise spent time thinking about Hive and learning about foundations and impact measurement. Wrote a column about Teenage Girls that spread far and wide. People on the street came to say thank you. Ruby turned 5 years on January 23rd, but was too busy to really celebrate.
  • Read on the history of computers (the Dyson family kept reappearing throughout the year), obsessed over the embroided computer, anime computers and Alan Kay.


  • Miyazakiworld by Susan J. Napier. Returned to this a few times throughout the year.
  • Circe by Madeline Miller.


  • Saw Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed played with baroque instruments with M which was probably the most touching art piece I saw all year.
  • Hung out a lot with friends: went to Sweden with M & A, saw a theater play with R, M, P and A. A new, feisty goddaughter was born. Watched Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service with P. Did a few lab checkups. Tried to tie loose relationship ends with close ones. Still quite sad for the entire month.
  • The best Valentine’s date at Tove Jansson’s ateljee and could have spent days looking through Tove’s books (Brecht, Bergman and Dahl among others!). Was delighted by How Bibliophiles Flirt — needed a bit of romantic assurance from the universe.
  • Started keeping a page-a-day journal, writing first thing in the morning and felt great about it. Thought about modern day collectibles. Guillermo Del Toro was my favorite new Twitter follow. Novels with giant, possibly magical libraries.
  • Was on the cover of Cosmopolitan! Worked on the Love Letters script and curriculum which was the big thing for the year. Tried a ton of things that didn’t work and felt very stuck from time to time, but that too passed. A periodic reminder to self.





  • Visited Georgia for a teacher training session and book launch. Made it to the news! Visited also Tallinn and high-fived Nassim Taleb. Kept thinking about this question.
  • Shot the Love Letters series, which was my first experience in showrunning and scriptwriting. It’s wonderful to experience something that you willed into the world coming together. (A proper thank you here for everyone involved). Spent many fun days at A’s building and collecting all the props. Didn’t succeed in something I was certain I would.
  • Turned 33. Officially stopped feeling young sometime this or last year, but the Nyancat cake did help and so did Mary Oliver. “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.
  • Spent Easter holidays with family and hand-cutting Assembly code out of colourful paper. Did a lovely weekend trip to Hanko, a few school visits and the annual Koodi2016 party with J. and A, and a dinner hosted by A & K. The Silurian Hypothesis was the intellectual catnip of the month.
  • Returned to SF, first time with a direct flight. Long run to Ocean Beach was much needed. Met a lot of old and new friends, schemed with H.







  • Was free of all responsibility and schedules. Went on an impromptu Eastern Finland tour: first to Savonlinna Opera Festival, then to A’s summerhouse, then to P’s island.
  • Had a lovely time in London with A, A and H. Loved the Olafur Eliasson exhibit at Tate, cooked a dinner of edible hope in Brixton, bought an aspirational dress and twenty kilos of books.
  • Was both tired with apartment hunting and feeling homeless, but also enjoyed the frathouse feel of living with L and M. Nostalgia much with the new Veronica Mars and Neon Genesis Evangelion finally on Netflix.
  • Wrote about memory and the digital world. Was excited about Tyler’s and Patrick’s Progress Studies.
  • Did a biketrip to Porvoo and Loviisa and spent a few lovely, introverted days writing at the Strömförs Ruukki. Burnt my back while biking so badly I still have little faded wings.



  • Returned to work a little bit happier and full of life. Enjoyed Hive a lot and it was amazing to see real students in a real building. So different from my normal work, but so rewarding.
  • Worked a lot on the Love Letters materials, making the website ready and trying to get everything together. Studied SVOD strategies and chapter books and children’s tv and was a little bit all over the place. I’m not sure Robert Caro would agree on my methods.
  • Thought about Nintendo a lot. Watched Euphoria.
  • August felt like endless Sunday dinners. Also a lot of culture (Gurrelieder, Flow — where Erykah Badu made me think of speed, Ellen Theseleff, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and running (enjoyed Sandistrail and Midnight Run a lot). K’s graduation party and A’s one year birthday party. One evening I was walking down Fredrikinkatu, realising it was the last day of summer and it was ok and I was ok.



  • Thought a lot about metaphors and disparate connections between things. Loved Copenhagen Techfestival and visited the Computer History museum in Cambridge for the first time. Teachers (and people on the Internet) continued to inspire me. Was appointed to a High Level Working Group in UNESCO.
  • A selfie with smily eyes, Nausicae Valley of the Wind in an open air movie theater on a windy August evening, a life-affirming weekend in Copenhagen, walking into my future home for the first time. Felt very light, like built-in-bunny-sneakers were finally out and a full year had passed.
  • Saw Downton Abbey in the movies with family. Fleabag season 2 had the perfect ending. Cursor hats. Thought a lot about letter writing and wrote more, with new people.
  • Mary Oliver helped me and many others. That this, too, was a gift. Therapy was such a lifeline throughout the year.







  • November and December are always too busy and this year I deliberately tried to not exhaust myself. Did a lot of babysitting, said no to many things and didn’t push other stuff. And nothing broke, the opposite. My TED talk went past 2 million views and a project started in the summer of giving a special Sberbank edition of Hello Ruby to 70 000 Russian kids came out. Enjoyed this discussion on Monocle Radio a lot. I scrolled through the Hello Ruby twitter account and saw almost 3000 posts worth of reasons to keep working.
  • I subscribe to a dozen e-mail newsletters that bring me weekly joy (and I still am an old school RSS user!). Recommendations for the new year: Robin Sloan, Craig Mod, Recs, Sentiers, Electric Eel, Austin Kleon, Convivial Society and The Creative AI. I think a newsletter is the one thing I’ll try to (re)start next year.
  • Watched The Crown, The Irishman and Booksmart, all of which I loved (but still, this is still probably my all-time favorite genre). Wrote about work for YLE.
  • Gave a speech at Huawei gala with themes I want to continue with, including long term technology. “What I really like doing is what I call Import and Export. I like taking ideas from one place and putting them into another place and seeing what happens when you do that.” — Brian Eno
  • Worked every extra minute on the apartment, but didn’t quite finish it for Christmas. Loved organising a babyshower for A. Danced at Otava party until morning, took A to see Peppi Pitkätossu. Started a new hobby with classical music. Had a little crush. Didn’t make my 1000 km a year running goal, somehow just lost all interest in running during November and December. But quite close, 846 kilometers.
  • Spent the first Christmas in three years at our summerhouse. Enjoyed having the entire family together and the boxing day shenanigans of 20+ people. Watched Mary Poppins returns and had instant flashbacks to Fleabag smirks. Changed my LinkedIn title to Mary Poppins of Computing


Linda Liukas

Written by

I like shiny things and software. Childrens book author at Co-founder of @Codecademy alumni.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade