San Francisco: Year One

This post originally published at bryn.io on December 01, 2014.

Today, Sarah and I have lived in San Francisco for exactly one year. I’ve never really been the type of person to write a retrospective, but I thought that today seemed like a good occasion to change that. Our year in SF has been surreal in ways both good and bad — but…

TL;DR: San Francisco is awesome.


…Itty Bitty Living Space

I know it’s become pretty cliché to talk about how small and expensive apartments are in SF, but I’m going to start there anyway. Our living space was reduced from a rather large industrial loft in downtown Minneapolis, MN to a small room in a small house with a staircase for a street. We found the house on Airbnb two days into living in a creepy old hotel and quickly moved in for a two-week stay. Shortly before we were scheduled to leave, one of the people living in the house moved out and we snagged her spot.

Despite the lack of space, we really couldn’t ask for a better place to live. It has a fantastic view of the city. Our roommate/landlord, Ajay has been fantastic to live and work with. He’s one of the most generous and genuinely helpful people we’ve ever met and his fiancée, Candice is equally awesome. Plus, he has great taste in video games.


Our Dog is Benjamin Button-ing.

A few weeks ago, our extremely laid-back dog, Roxy, got even mellower. And mellower. And stopped eating. And stopped being able to walk. We took her to the vet hospital and found out she has Addison’s Disease (her adrenal glands don’t produce cortisol) which means she copes with stress by laying down and not wanting to do anything. Once we found that out and started treating her, though, it’s like she’s a puppy again. She’s never had this much energy in her life. It’s kind of amazing how much more outgoing and playful she’s become in such a short amount of time.


People in Motion Tend to Stay in Motion

We’ve also suddenly become busy 100% of the time. This is a bit of a mixed blessing — there’s something about always having something to do and never being bored that is rather exciting and fun and it gives us a good reason to hang out with some really great people. On the other hand, much of my time spent with Sarah consists of her watching a movie on the bed next to me while I work until 3am.


Twitter Friends => Offline Friends

I’ve met a ton of insanely talented people here. I really can’t put into words how lucky I feel about this particular item. I’ve had some great conversations over meals at local startups. I’ve met friends and partners at Dribbble meetups. I’ve gotten advice on side projects over Saturday morning coffee. And of course, I worked side-by-side for 10 months with a designer I had looked up to for years. Most of these came from just reaching out to someone I wanted to talk to on Twitter and that kinda blows my mind.


Jack of All Trades

Sarah did me a huge favor by being willing to move out here without any sort of plan as far as employment. She’s been (as usual) the perfect partner-in-crime for this insane year and taken all of the craziness in stride. She got the chance to work in a world-class bakery (something she’s always wanted to try) very early into our move here. When she decided that wasn’t her thing, she got hired by Mule Design — the very studio that inspired us to try to start our own back in Minneapolis a couple years back. Not long after that, Jack (as she’s known there) began the shift from managing the office to managing projects — which is something she’s always been great at (I count on her organizational skills to keep several of my own side projects on track).


Build ALL the Things

Between our work at ShopSavvy and Mule, we’ve each started a few side projects. Some friends and I launched a little tool called Privatize back in May and it garnered some pretty great press and a lot of usage in the first week or so. While my partners have had to leave for various reasons, I’ve been working on turning Privatize into something even more powerful and have gotten to talk to a lot of exciting companies about working together (I’m excited to share that more in the coming months). Besides that, our old PXLFOX compatriots, Sean and Logan, and my brother have joined up with Sarah and I to create a new kind of email app for iOS that we really think will scratch an itch for many busy people (again, excited to share more soon). And last but not least, I’m now working with the remarkably young/tall/talented Brian Lovin to create a podcast based on his incredible Design Details blog.


And in closing… the Gooey Bits

Of course, the absolute best part of being in SF has been the incredible people we get to spend time with every day. Moving away from family was particularly difficult for Sarah, but the fantastic group of friends we’ve made here has made it much easier than either of us expected and we couldn’t be more thankful for them.

All in all, this has been far and away the best year of my life — and I’d be willing to bet that it’s been Sarah’s too. It’s certainly been the most exciting and busy year we’ve ever had and I can’t wait for the next one.

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