The entry below is classified as a LEGACY post, meaning that it was written (well) before the current version of Avalonstar was released. Although these posts have survived the numerous moves over years, there is no guarantee that they've survived the trip unscathed (especially the links).

Best. Year. Ever.

2011: A year that felt like five.

It's quite unbelievable how much we managed to fit in and it's equally unbelievable that we've come out unscathed. So let's start from the beginning.

On January 3rd, I joined GitHub as a Creative Badass. What started out as a reply to a retweet Kyle's made from the @githubjobs account was quickly followed by my first surprise interview (while inebriated, I might add) ever followed by an offer letter... in a Gist. The very next day, I had designed my first logo for them, then quickly established the branding for what would later be known as CodeConf. A few weeks later, I joined them in beautiful Sonoma County, California for an amazing retreat, wherein I presented on the topic of Morning Musume for the first time.

February was actually quite a normal February, or what I refer to them as, Jen-uary. Why's that?

  • February 6 — Jen's Birthday.
  • February 14 — Valentine's Day.
  • February 21 — Our Anniversary.

It was definitely normal for us: normal entailing lots of boba. Design wise? At the GitHub retreat the month prior, I was approached by Leah—who at the time was CEO of a startup named Convore—and asked me to create an identity for them. I unveiled it in February and it definitely tops the list as one of my favorite designs.

March came and things started to pick up. Right off the bat I was on a plane to my first PyCon. Thanks to GitHub I was able to go to Atlanta and take in my very first developer-focused conference. I saw a lot of people I knew of from the Internet—some old friends and and a lot of new ones. After touching back down at LAX, preparations for the wedding started accelerating quickly. Jen and I jumped right into our Save-the-Dates and thanks to the guys at Aardvark Letterpress, they looked (and felt) amazing. Hell, we even got video of the process:

Yet even with all this, I considered this the proverbial "calm before the storm."

I nicknamed April, "the month from hell," with my final reprieve being my birthday on the 2nd. Four days later, I was back in Austin, Texas for the first time since 2009 to join my brothers at Sidebar for the first of three Sidebar Workshops. Barring the informal talk I gave at the GitHub retreat a few months prior, I hadn't engaged in any form of public speaking since the first workshop we held in 2008. While it went better than I had hoped (which is usually the case, isn't it) I was on the first plane back to Los Angeles to pick up Jen and then the next plane to San Francisco for CodeConf. I had been hard at work on the printed material in the weeks working up to the event and with some awesome Octocat magic from Cameron, everything looked spectacular.

Hmm… a new paragraph must mean a new month. NOPE. Our trip home from San Francisco gave us only a few weeks time until we would head back up the Pacific coast to our favorite city in the union, Seattle, for SakuraCon 2011, Berryz Koubou and Hello! Party 2. Time for Bryan's fandom cap. When Morning Musume came to Los Angeles in 2009, Jen and I (but mostly Jen) threw a very well-received fan party, so by the time the group's little sisters were slated to come to the states, people were asking for the sequel. Despite the usual hitches and technical difficulties, we were able to hold another successful event. As for the conference itself, SakuraCon was amazing and we met a huge number of fans who we quickly befriended. We even… rioted. (If you'd like to see the author of this blog in a completely different light, he urges you to watch that video.)

But the real kicker? We were able to get the promotional posters I created signed by the group.

May: Venues, vendors, expos and other necessities that would be filed under "wedding preparation." I drove a lot. By the end of May, I had picked the tuxes for my groomsmen, Jen was choosing her wedding dress, we had decided on our venue and were ready to get our invitations printed. Also, cake.

In the midst of serious wedding planning, moving a home would be a great idea right? Well, that's what we did. Jen and I had helped encourage her parents to move out of their apartment of 12 years and into a spacious rental house. That's how June started and a few days later I was on another plane, this time to Philadelphia for the second Sidebar Workshop of the year. By then, half of my mind was always in groom mode. I came home to, of course, more work and more wedding planning. GitHub had just announced a Python-scoped CodeConf and I was tasked with testing my brand for the upcoming PyCodeConf.

The balancing act had come to a head. Designing had to be done. We still had vendors to find. Every other week we were sent to Orange County for secret swing dance lessons… and the invitations weren't even done yet!

July dawned with the final item on that list. We rented a camera and started taping the DVD that would accompany the invitation and after that I got reacquainted with Final Cut Pro and my videographer side. Waiting for an hour-long DVD to render only to find that there were errors is equivalent to getting your soul sucked out of you by a dementor. Also, LightScribe—such an awful technology. It took approximately 20 minutes per DVD and I had to do about 100 of them. By the end of it, I was quite proud of my multitasking abilities. Designing a wedding website while burning and light-scribing a hundred DVDs isn't an easy thing to do! I even blogged about it.

Speaking of dementors! Taking a trip to Orlando for a Harry Potter conference a month-and-a-half before your wedding is an awesome idea, right? Whether or not you think so, that's what we did. In what later turned out to be a much needed breather from the aforementioned balancing act, Jen and I both put our fandom caps back on and had a blast at LeakyCon and got rained on at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in celebration of the final movie coming out. I even donned Slytherin robes, because that's apparently my house.

I'm not evil… really.

August. Well, a video's worth a million words:

Best. Day. Ever. So much love and excitement in the company of family and friends—both designer and wota alike. Also, an @!$%# R8.

September came with a sigh of relief. Somehow we had made it through. Every penny came out of our pockets and yet we made it through. With rings on fingers, there was a sense of love and pride that came knowing that after 8 long years, we had made official something we had already been living for years.

But enough sap! ;) There was a honeymoon (and Hubot's new home) to come.

Months back, when the sequel to a small Irish conference was announced, I decided it would be the perfect place to start our honeymoon. Neither of us had either been across the Atlantic Ocean and it'd be a chance to get a taste of Europe. But like the wedding, this is best described in a video:

After Ireland, our trip took us to London and then onto Japan:

71 days. It was the longest I had ever been out of the country. As I write this, it was only a month ago that we were packing up our small apartment in Tokyo, getting ready to head home from our home-away-from-home. After getting back, I recovered from the honeymoon hangover and got right back to work. What exactly it is I'm working on will have to wait. But I'll be awesome, I promise. ^_^;

So that was my year. Fun, right? :D I've become exhausted just remembering it all.

This has truly been my best year, ever. There are so many people that have supported us—our families, our friends (both web-based and otherwise), GitHub—and for that I express a sincere thank you. I have an epic job working with extremely talented people. I have two very strong groups of friends in which I can share my love for this industry and my love for idols, respectively (and hopefully one day, interchangeably). Hell, I've even worked with video more in this year alone than I have since high school.

tl;dr: I owe you all hugs, lots of hugs.

2012 is right around the corner now. I've never been great at remembering the resolutions I make, but I will remember this one: I will never forget to be awesome.

See you on the flip side. :)

Avalonstar is the 22-year-old personal website of Bryan Veloso: content creator, retired professional user interface designer, and compass of purpose.
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