In the beginning of 2020, I had some goals. As you might expect, things didn’t go as planned. 😅

It started off well!

I had some freelance work right up until my honeymoon in February, which was amazing. My wife and I were able to make it back from Japan in early March, just as people in the states were beginning to take COVID-19 seriously. We voluntarily quarantined when we got back, followed by everything in Massachusetts shutting down.

Luckily, many of my routine-based goals — working remotely, learning to cook, exercising — complemented the state of living in lockdown. Due to repeat work from former clients, I was busy with freelance work without actively seeking it out. I learned to cook some meals and did so consistently, including a poor man’s ramen using homemade dashi and chicken broth — I still miss Japan. And by the middle of the year I was running 5Ks every morning, which was definitely a first for me.

Then in May, my wife and I did something kind of crazy...

We bought a house in Asheville, NC and moved there in June.

We had actually been planning to move for years. Boston had never felt like home, we wanted to live closer to family, and we were tired of throwing money into the rental void. We had visited a few cities in the south over the past few years and landed on Asheville because of the art and music culture, good food, access to both nature and a cool city, and a non-absurd cost of living.

So yeah! I’m a home owner now.

Have you heard that once you buy a house there is a lot of work to do around said house? Well, I can confirm that’s true.

The house came with a big fenced in yard, so we did the logical thing and adopted a puppy — a Golden Retriever / Great Pyrenees mix named Moose. He’s a very happy, goofy boy with a lot of energy. We’re still getting used to life with a dog (as are the cats) but we’re making progress.

We haven’t explored Asheville as much as we would have liked because Moose is not good enough on a leash to go on hikes yet and also there’s the whole global pandemic thing. But we have at least ordered a lot of takeout. 😁

The house also came with a huge shed, which I’ve been working on turning into a studio / jam space. I hired some contractors to handle the electrical work and install an AC unit, but despite not being been much of a handyman, I managed to install the drywall and flooring myself. There’s still some more work to be done — trim and sound panels — but soon I’ll have my own music studio!

I worked on some music this year too. I started a new remote band with some old friends in Florida called Red Era, and we released our first EP in November. I also joined a local metalcore band and we’ve been writing and practicing every couple of weeks.

Looking back

I didn’t get to everything I had originally planned.

I fell out of my exercise routine towards the end of the year. I did design a metronome app but haven’t followed through with building it yet. I definitely did not post much on my blog or Twitter, lol. And there was an a collection of music I had planned on finishing this year but didn’t get to — it's perpetually almost done. 😅

But overall, 2020 was an exciting and productive year despite the messed up state of the world, and despite not being a full time employee for the first time in my adult life. My only goal for 2021 is to keep up the momentum.

James Ferrell

I’m a UX developer currently living in Asheville, NC. I build websites and web applications which are well-designed, responsive, accessible, and fast.

I’m currently taking on new projects, so get in touch!