in classic maddie fashion, you know i am horrible at summarising, and that i tend to write more like a stream of consciousness and make small edits after the fact. i have difficulty remembering things until i start talking about them. i also have bipolar, ADHD, and autism, and those definitely play into the way i communicate, especially as i continue to rip off the masks, and continue to get treatment.
but i'll be highlighting stuff in bold, to help you traverse my thoughts a little more efficiently.
so go ahead and grab your boba, because this is gonna be a long one.
2022 follows a pretty wild year of 2021, which gets a short reflection here because i didn't really do it last year. 2021 introduced some heavy, and at times unhealthy, levels of socializing, which did kick a lot of much needed confidence into gear, and i'm grateful for all of that. things didn't end so well on that front but i learned a lot from it. by the end of that year and into this year, i was very burnt out, having finished a big AAA game soundtrack project i directed and did some composing and audio implementation programming for and had been working on for almost 3 years, recovering from burnout from toxic work environments, i also had bronchitis for 2 months and was unable to work. though i am truly proud of my accomplishments.
after some much needed recovery at the end of the year, things started to fall into place for 2022. i got invited into Infloresce Records, and i got heads down into hobbies and trying new / revisiting old creative things, like 3D art and animation, pixel art, a bit of VR dev, but i was still relatively burnt out from music. i also got started on the official localisation project for River City Girls Zero, a port of a Super Famicom game, Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka.
and from here, we segue into 2022.
i never had a professional ROM hacking project before and it turns out i have a lot of fun doing it. i managed to get a localisation build pipeline going and did some really wild stuff expanding the dialogue system to support 9 new languages including Chinese Traditional / Simplified and Korean. i'm really thankful for the opportunity and i look forward to hopefully more.
i got laid off from what i thought was my dream tech job. this came out of nowhere but in hindsight opened up new opportunities. i walked away from this with a refreshed passion for building a company from it roots in new, people focused ways. i am so grateful for all the people i got to work with there, and i am very grateful to have worked for Amy, an amazing manager, a mentor, coach, sponsor, and a good friend. i learned a lot from her and she encouraged me to write more, to express myself naturally, and helped me navigate through the word salad and help me figure out some direction in my tech career. she encouraged me to keep asking why?, and was a huge advocate for me. she also helped me find my next opportunity. i'm reluctant to say it's a dream job, lol, but it does provide a lot of new technical challenge and opportunities to grow, and it's a small enough startup where i want to continue to help build companies that put psychological safety as a priority. (it's also a goal with maddie vision, my own company, though i suspect it will be a while before i get to direct a team-size project again there).
the game from 2021 i worked on also got delayed indefinitely, which came as a shock and disappointment to everyone involved. i'm really proud of the work we've done. no one can take that away from us. i grew so much through this and learned so many things on the job. but it saddens me that we can't yet share it to the world, and that we don't know when we can.
with no new freelance music work lined up, i got to focus more on original music. i wrote Rosie’s Garden, my piece for Floral Folklore, Infloresce Records's debut album. i also wrote an accompanying short story tale (something i had never done before), which you can find in the link to the song above. it was the first original piece officially released that i can say was truly personal–not related to any soundtrack. and so this set the theme for the rest of the year, and i went on to write Perseids 🌠 in time for Infloresce’s Snowdrop Festival. thanks to Infloresce, i was able to connect with a new community of composers in digital fusion, of which many people were queer. while i was building up independence IRL, i was doing more socialising online. as someone who works from home, and has done so for the past 6 years, it was really nice to find some balance of socialisation and coworking that worked even virtually.
my little art hobbies continued, and i pushed myself to try new things, and even managed to release things in that space. for Rosie’s Garden i wrote a MIDI visualiser framework in Unity to create a music video. i would continue to extend this in a MIDI visualiser video for silver lining, a song from @aivi’s debut album, tiger & water. and i am very grateful to have finally got to collaborate with @aivi, a very close friend of mine. i would then later help out with the Snowdrop Festival, volunteering to make vector art objects for the game-like overworld map! (we’re going to officially post it in full res soon!)
i finally got time to play games, watch shows and anime. can you believe i only played Chrono Trigger for the first time this year? (despite how much it's music has been formative to me in my earlier years), i went on to play Chrono Cross and i love the Chrono series lol. i look forward to playing more RPGs.
one pretty surprising game i got into, and kind of blew up as a huge thing in my life, is Riichi Mahjong. it started with a little group in Infloresce, and now today, only half a year later, i own my own automatic table, host mahjong nights, and i also go to a mahjong club. and so i get to play with local friends every week or so, and we've entered some casual tournaments (and I failed hard at California rookie cup qualifiers lol, but i'm glad i did it).
after 3 years of the pandemic preventing me from doing so, i finally got to go back to Australia to visit my parents, and extended family. My recent Mahjong interests also provided me a new way to connect with my Mom and her friends. I got to see my little sister, who's growing up fast (and also now seemingly obsessed with Mario music, making Mario Maker levels, and learning how to compose and code lol). Every now and then I will get a message asking me "can you make this but with dire dire docks piano". and my niece recently moved to LA, which i greatly appreciate, since it's been a decade or so since family lived in the same city as me.
i started writing… a lot. this post here is obviously an example of that. since the twitter shakeup a good amount of my friends came over here to cohost. and despite many strangers who follow me, it's surprising how much i've been able to open up, and felt safe to freely express myself. it's also given me content to post to my blog. this also extends to mastodon, where i practiced writing even more vulnerable things, thanks to being around a community of mostly women and queer people. ironically all these interactions led me to be more active on Twitter, to interact with people more.
despite all of these things, 2022 was at often times lonely. self doubt, self blame, never truly goes away. but i continued to work on myself. people have been trying for the longest time, to get me to stop being so hard on myself. i started to do more research on autism and whether i might have it or not. for now i am self-diagnosed. and finally embracing that, my self discovery work has only opened up more. i'm developing the language to communicate my needs.
i wrote a post, trying to hold all the pieces, originally on mastodon, then crossposted here on cohost, and then my blog. it was a spontaneous reflection on my life thus far, focusing on all the fragmentation in my life, and the impact it has for me to look at it that way. all of these things are part of me, but they are not me, i'm merely the roads and intersections that hold it all together. hmm. seems like this could be inspiration for something.
all in all, i feel like 2022 was a net positive. since i came out as trans in 2018, i learn more about myself, which gets harder each time, more questions lead to more, and things get twisted into cognitive dissonance hell. but each year i also get stronger, more equipped to deal with it. i learned to embrace the chaos.
so what does next year look like?
and so we finally get to 2023. what is maddie going to do?
i need to focus on health, like ASAP. i know i'm going to try to do too many things, and it is inevitable that i will get overloaded. i need to continue to learn more about myself, and my needs, and find better ways to cope, set myself up for success for when i reach the point of executive dysfunction. it means things like more structure to the day-to-day, habit tracking, mood tracking, more writing. more exploration of autism. more fitness, even if it is just arcade dance games, VR fitness games, and taking a 15 minute walk around the block. recreational things like games, watching shows, and general self-care are also important here!
i want to be more involved in community, both participating, and building. i want to be more involved in the digital fusion community. i want to find community where i currently feel alone, like my creative hobbies, interests, intersections. i feel like mastodon has got me to open up more about this, inspired me to reconnect with old hobbies that i always forget that bring me a ton of joy. community will help me grow, because i can learn with the help and support around me. to remind myself that it‘s okay to ask for help.
that ties into creativity. i'm no longer going to say "i'm not an artist". i have power in my intersectional experiences, and i want to try and put them all together to build some of the cool and unique things i've been designing for a long time. i have a lot to learn, and building will be slow. i want to dive into new things, like learning DSP, synthesis, and the necessary math. i want to practice that, not just by studying or building, but also reverse engineering more of the things i grew up with, that made me who i am. after all that seems to be my most effective way of learning.
and in 2023, i'm releasing an album! much of my writing lately, all the reflection mode as of late, has finally inspired me with themes to write about. it will be a very personal album. in general i also want to push myself more in the sound design space, get back into making EDM, etc., and find my voice in it.
inevitably community will lead me to build new friendships. i want to be more intentional about working on my relationships, old and new. not necessarily interacting with them everyday, but just remembering that they are there, remembering to check in at the very least. and socialising (whether in person, discord, or VR)! continuing to do this more responsibly (not just the COVID sense, but also to watch out for my sensory overload, and keep an eye on the introvert battery ).
and family. i get to see more of my little sister this year, and i finally get to go to Japan to see my other sister. and i need to hang out more with my niece.
i'm sure many more things will come about. and i will likely not get to all of these in the way i am imagining, but i think this is a good start, and a probably a good way to frame things. and you'll hear more about these as the new year progresses 😊
i'm proud of what i've done this year. i think it was a lot. but i definitely could not have done it alone.
i want to thank the digifu community. i love you and you encourage me to keep making music, to remember why i love making music. 💜
to aivi for starting and inviting me to Infloresce Records, and being an all around amazing friend all these years. to everyone else at Infloresce Records who make the community what it is, for your kind words and encouragement on my music, for lifting me out of my musical impostor syndrome, for giving me a space to express music, as me. to Michaela for helping bring Rosie’s Garden to life, and for being there all these years. 💜
to Matthew, who listens to my bullshit everyday. to James who continues to be a big reason why i have game industry opportunities at all, and being an amazing friend since the beginning of time. to my other LA friends whom i need to hang out with more. 💜
to Ryan and the small group at Infloresce who got me into *Riichi Mahjong, which has become quite a big part of my life. to the Sydney Riichi Meetup for being so welcoming for my first IRL games. to LAPOM and my mahjong friends in LA… i still can’t believe you convinced me to start playing irl tournaments lol 💜
to Amy (sailorhg) and others who also have seemingly infinite amount of creative interests and intersections, who blur the lines between engineering and art, you are very inspiring to me, you make me feel seen. 💜
to Mom and Dad, my little sister, my family on the other side of the world, i was glad we could have a huge family reunion, it's truly a once in a lifetime thing for our extended family to get together like this. and my niece who moved to my city, who i really need to hang out with more. 💜
to Moment, thank you for having me and trusting in me, i know we're going to build some really cool things together. 💜
to cohost, and everyone who i interact with here, thank you for giving me a safe space to write. regardless of where i would have written this post, it would have probably not have existed for a very long time without you. 💜
to the small, but growing mastodon community around me, and akiba.party, thank you for giving me a home in the fediverse, and a space to rekindle the hobbies i've neglected. it's a significant reason why i want to be in communities again. i write a lot there too lol. 💜
to those who reconnected with me. i'm glad you're back in my life. 💜
to all those with whom i had falling outs with. i know it is selfish to say this. but i will forever appreciate the impact you've had on my life. maybe one day we will reconnect, or maybe we won't, and that's okay. 💜
to all who are willing to listen to me and put up with my rambling, and to those who repeat it back to help me make sense of it. 💜
i'm sure i've missed many many more and just know that i appreciate every bit of encouragement, time spent, impact, of any size, that anyone has given to me. i am very lucky to have such cool people in my life. 💜
and to you, dear reader, thank you for reading this all the way to the end. i'm sorry this is so long, and since i have been writing more lately, next year's reflection will hopefully not be another 20-posts-in one write up. i always seem to have so much to say. i originally wanted this post to be a simple bullet point list, but well, lol. 💜
here's to 2023, an exciting new year! it will have its struggles and sadness, but it will be worth the growth. and the success and happiness it will ultimately build up to. even a little bit, is a good start. baby steps. 🌱
i believe in me, and i believe in you. 💖
closing out the year with this song. let's watch the sky together 🌠
~ maddie 🌹 ❤️
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