2005 In Review

As 2005, a year that has seen many and incredible changes in my life, draws to a close, I thought it appropriate to mention some of the personal highlights, and make observations about these last 365 days from a perspective blessed with hindsight. So now, in hopefully chronological order, here are the things that were important to me since December 31, 2004 (some significant events being censored to protect certain individuals, of course).

Note: if the event which I am describing has been written about previously on one of my weblogs or something similar, I offer a link to that entry, called “read more…”.

  • 2005 began somewhat inauspiciously at my family’s then-residence in Orlando, along with most of my Stanford draw group. We were too busy playing cards and drinking white russians to give the incoming year much attention, so it sort of snuck in. More importantly, as has likely been told previously, New Year’s 2005 was situated in the middle of a very significant process for me, namely making the decision to move back to California or not. I’d spent a good amount of time back in Palo Alto since November, and had talked seriously with some friends there about forming a sort of spiritual community. Of course, I eventually moved (see below), but at that time things were very much still in the air, and so I was constantly weighing options and feelings, and hoping that God would lead me one way or the other. (read more…)
  • (Early January) Version 1 of e4:online (the web app I have been developing for Teleios since Oct 2004) went live. It had minimal features, and looked a whole lot worse than it does now. It still doesn’t look/work quite well enough, so the last year has been spent on the same project, which will hopefully be more done soon.
  • (January 16) I ran a half-marathon by myself in Orlando, in 1h50m. It marks the longest distance I’ve ever run (the record still stands). Unfortunately, shortly thereafter my knees begin to act up which impedes my running for the rest of the year. (read more…)
  • (January 20) Back in Palo Alto, I write a song which is tentatively called “Chapter II”. The song is significant because it is the first to be written for the concept album I recently imagined. It’s basically a story-format album, with each chapter unfolding a bit more of, for lack of a better genre, a fairy tale. Since then, I’ve written a number of other songs for the album (including the one also for Nyffy’s wedding–see below), though it is not finished at the end of 2005. “Chapter II” was later recorded in April (get it here.
  • (January 22) In what was, in hindsight, the first community retreat for our group in Palo Alto, a few of us went up to my family’s apartment in San Francisco for a weekend, with the goal of hammering out a vision of community we could put into words and use as an invitation for our friends. We wanted something fairly concrete to approach others with, and so we spent a good many hours thinking, writing, and praying. This event was significant for a number of reasons. It more or less defined the shape of the experiment that we wanted to try over the next year, but beyond that, it solidified my feeling that the best course of action for me was in fact to move back to Palo Alto.
  • (January 23) At the end of the weekend, we had a meeting with about 15 people at the Bott household, and shared our vision with them. Out of that night, probably more than any other specific moment, came the community which is now my home.
  • (Early February) I met with my boss Pavi over lunch and inform him of my intentions to move to California. Out of sheer graciousness, he agreed to let me continue working for Teleios (then Excelsis) long-distance from the west coast. With only such green lights ahead, I felt increasingly confident that I had made the right decision. (read more…).
  • (February 8) I gathered what things I could fit on the airplane and flew to San Jose, officially moving to California. 3 months ago, the idea would have been completely preposterous, but now it had happened (read more…).
  • (Rest of February) I lived in the 447 house with a bunch of girls, since I had no place to stay in Palo Alto, and since Erin was gone for the month on a trip to Peru, leaving an empty room in the house. It was a really fun time, and I discovered that for the most part girls are fairly pleasant house companions. Cleaner, on the whole. I lived at their place until April (excepting the few times when Erin was in town, of course).
  • (March 2) I flew back to Orlando for a few days to pack up my car and belongings, in preparation for the drive out to California which would complete my move. Erin had agreed to co-pilot cross-country, so we weaved our way west, stopping to see various people we knew along the road.
  • (March etc) For a month or so, I took a break from working on the web app and spent some time fixing up and outlining the transcript for Graham Tomlin’s summer 2004 course. This was a significant experience for me, as it enabled me to engage once again with material that was very formative in terms of my current faith experience, especially as it pertained to community.
  • (March 23) Started writing iRateTunes, which I finished about a month later. (more…)
  • (March 30) I flew to Gainesville to be with my brother David, whose engagement with a girl had just ended. They were to be married in a few months, and it was an incredibly hard time for him and our family. Dav and I needed something to do, so that’s when we recorded “Chapter II”.
  • (April 10) Excelsis becomes Teleios. What will be next? Will it be another word in some ancient language?
  • (April 11) I moved in with Justin Smith and Dan Gannon at the unused Young Life house in East Palo Alto. EPA is a very different place than the Palo Alto across the 101, and things like shootings and drug deals happen all too frequently. So close to Stanford, but we were very insulated there from the reality on the other side of the highway. Justin and Dan each had their own reasons for living there. Mine were (a) cheap rent, (b) living with Justin, and (c) exploring life in a less affluent part of Palo Alto, to see if maybe our community had a place in a location like that. I lived there with Justin until early July, when we finally got our current apartment (and were kicked out because Young Life decided to use the house again). I avoided buying any furniture and successfully slept in a sleeping bag for 3 months, and managed to live very simply there. I can’t say that I even tried to integrate myself into the surrounding neighborhood community, except for sporadic (but meaningful) conversations in Spanish with our next-door neighbor. Ultimately, while the state of the area did constantly break my heart, the issues our own community of friends were exploring demanded all of my time and passion.
  • (All spring) Things with community had begun to pick up, and we had started to have long dinner-gatherings once a week. These facilitated our drawing closer as a group, our exploration of many topics (including the one of service-based housing choices etc), our worshiping together, and so on. In addition, our lives began to be more integrated with one another’s, and we experienced many cool events and times together which I will not chronicle here. These experiences, of course, were not always attended only by benefits, but sometimes frustrations as well, which was to be expected.
  • (April 17) We started planning for our community retreat to Costa Rica, which eventually took place in August
  • (April 23) Epic backpacking trip in Big Sur with the guys, replete with really cold hot springs.
  • (April 27) Flew to Gainesville for my brother David’s graduation from UF.
  • (April 28) Started reading El Alquimista, which, since I actually finished it, became the first full-length Spanish book I read, apart from the New Testament
  • (April/May) Community had discussions centered around whether or not we wanted to live all together in one big house, or more separately. I had a lot of excitement towards the idea of living together, and it didn’t pan out, which was frustrating. (read more…).
  • (May 12) Family retreat in Napa.
  • (May 28) Epic trip to Santa Barbara (see pictures…)
  • (June 1) Ultimately, in lieu of the community house idea, 5 of us guys decided to find an apartment together. We ended up choosing College Terrace over EPA, which was a hard decision but made because we did not feel that the community was ready to be placed in an environment like that yet, and moreover some in the community in PA would have refused to go to EPA for various reasons anyhow; we put a high premium on physical proximity. So began the serious hunt for apartments
  • (June) Climbing in Pinnacles, Su Madre movers day, epic night-hike of half-dome, and Nyffy’s wedding in St Augustine (for which I had the honor of writing a song). (Read a lot more / see pictures…)
  • (Late June) My family moved homes in Orlando, to the place where I’m now writing.
  • (Late June) Nyffelers move to Palo Alto and find a place a mile from our future residence, it is awesome! Thus commences auditory readings of Harry Potter 6.
  • (Early July) My future roommates and I finally found a place to live in College Terrace, right by Stanford. Miraculously, two 2-bedroom places opened up right next to each other, and right next to the Botts’ apartment. So 7 of us were in the same building, if not the same house!
  • (July 11) I sprained my ankle very badly playing tennis, which put me out of athletic commission until Costa Rica, mid-August.
  • (August 1) I write one of the more important blog entries of the year: My Defining Sadnesses
  • (August 9) Current design goes live at!
  • (August 10) Community retreat for 2 weeks in Costa Rica; there are 10 of us. It is a very incredible time–overseas, so I love it, and I get to use and refine my Spanish. We rent two 4WD SUVs and go all over the country, exploring beaches and jungle. We get to a cool spot and spend 5 days there, pretty much all alone, which is a very meaningful time spiritually for all of us, and it really solidifies the community. For perhaps the first time, I feel that we are all on the same page. (read more…)
  • (September 3) Another epic backpacking trip in Hetch-Hetchy with the guys. I spend most of my time in the beautiful scenery rather depressed about girls, and take any opportunity to go climb up rocks and hills by myself, and stare off into space, and feel alien to the world. This feeling only intensifies over the next few months, and begins to define my experience, which I write about later. Anyway, (see pictures).
  • (September 13) Justin and I code (read more…)
  • (September 14-15) At Anne’s invitation, I speak to two of her history classes about philosophy. It’s the first time I’ve taught since I TA’ed a few years ago, and it was a really cool experience.
  • (Mid September) Community stuff begins to be very frustrating to me, and I begin to see a lot in myself that I don’t particularly like as well, especially in terms of how I interact with others in the community. These frustrations eventually come to an emotional head in late October / November before they are resolved. (read more…)
  • (September 26) I turn 23. (read more…)
  • (September 30) In a move somewhat reminiscent of desperation, I decide to e-mail one of Jenna’s Italian girl friends. She seems cool and then all of a sudden stops responding. Oh well!
  • (October 2) I finish reading the Kierkegaard anthology I have been working through. Reading the book was a very deep and spiritual experience, and propelled my thinking further than it had been before in a lot of areas. (read more…)
  • (August – October) Sigur Ros’ new album, Takk, completely captivates me, particularly their music video for “Glosoli”. (read more…)
  • (October 13) Recent interactions with Christians push me further and further away from any stake I have or want to have in Christian culture, and I express it by writing this.
  • (October 14) I ran the Palo Alto moonlight 10k, the first race I’d done since freshman year. I did well, coming in at 44:40. Importantly, my body felt healthy during “training” and after the run.
  • (October 15) Dan and I were accepted for the Whitney climb for 2006’s Summit for Someone campaign. (blog entry to come)
  • (October 23) Saw the most amazing sunset of the year with friends, at Windy Hill. (read more…)
  • (October 31) Nick, Jenna, and Justin accompanied me to Orlando for Teleios’ seminar with Alister McGrath, which we filmed at a Disney soundstage. It was an amazing week which reawakened my love of academic interaction (I got to spend a bit of one-on-one time with Dr McGrath and ask some relatively burning philosophical questions), and awakened an interest in his project of a “scientific theology”. I got a copy of his recently-published trilogy, and am working through it now–it is very fruitful for my current thoughts on many issues. (read more…)
  • (November 7) Some tensions based on different understandings of the vision/goal of the group had been slowly building within the community. We were able to lay these out on the table and discuss them in a very healthy and growthful way, which was incredible. Where we ended left me very sad, though, owing primarily to the way I’d been using community emotionally in a potentially-unhealthy way. Realizing this, and where other people were at, left me feeling simultaneously foolish, alone, and abandoned. I understood that a lot of what had happened fit similar patterns to how things tend to develop romantically for me. This brought to the fore the frustrations with that sphere, and illustrated how they undergird most, if not all, of what appear to be my central hurts. Such thoughts propelled me into a state of despair (a better word than depression) like I hadn’t experienced (or hadn’t allowed myself to). That’s when I wrote this entry. A few days later, I wrote the corresponding song. While these exercises helped, especially in the area of anger against God, the feelings I describe still define, though more dimly and numbly, my current day-to-day experience. I am not excited about this, and hope more than anything else that 2006 holds the key to moving on from here.
  • (November 17) I finally finished rating my whole iTunes library. (read more…)
  • (November 20) Went to Orlando for a really wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my family and extended family (from both sides). Also, for certain reasons felt a good deal more hope, unrelatedly in regards to both community and women, than on November 7.
  • (November 23) My brother Dav and I recorded a Christmas EP (more…) at our new studio, which we designed along with our family’s new house in Orlando, and which is awesome. In fact, throughout the last six months we had been piecing together songs for a new album–not the concept album I mentioned, but a re-recording of many older Splendour Hyaline songs, and some new ones as well. The recording is slow going, but the quality we are getting is fantastic, and we can’t wait to share the fruits of these labors with you.
  • (December 1) Our community had a weekend retreat in Tahoe, which contained a good deal of hanging around. It was significant because I felt that the tensions which seemed so sharp in October and November had lessened a good deal, and we were all able to interact as friends and spiritual compatriots regardless…which seemed a rare and awesome gift in any group of people.
  • (December 8) I saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was a very emotional and powerful experience for me. Those stories have been such a part of my life and mythology for so long (I mean, our band is named “Splendour Hyaline”…) that seeing many things come to life on the screen just caused me to weep. I never wrote any sort of review of it, but my friend Mr Lowe has done a wonderful job, so I don’t feel the need to.
  • (December 15) My family flew to England to meet up with my sister, who is attending Capernwray this year, up north of Manchester. We wandered around the lake district, and then on to Wales. The trip was excellent because (a) the UK is a very magical place for me (maybe owing to the stories I read as a child, which were usually written by Brits), (b) of all the many times I’ve been there, it has never been right before Christmas, so it seemed extra magical, and (c) it very rudely reawakened my passionate desire to be in different cultures and learning different languages. There was a deep sense of nostalgia hearing people speak Welsh, even though I’d never heard it before. At this point I don’t know what the long-term significance of that reawakening will be, if anything meaningful. (read more…)
  • (December 25) Christmas came and went without too much in the way of ceremony this year. Still, as my favorite holiday, it was a special time, and helped to ease the pain that had been surrounding my heart over the last few months.

And that brings us to now, where I sit writing. Let that, therefore, suffice for 2005.

I’m now waiting for the first of our New Year’s guests to arrive. We are expecting quite a crowd this year and I am looking forward to an epic party. Guests and drinking mean, of course, that the observational entries I promised regarding the UK will have to wait (and, if history is any indication, will never arrive), and I will next be writing to you from 2006!

For now, let us offer one final toast to 2005, which held so much change and so many surprises, good and bad; and, as always, so many indicators of God’s faithfulness (though they were sometimes, and often still seem, very hard to see). Cheers!

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan worked as a programmer in tech startups for several decades, but is also passionate about all kinds of creative pursuits and academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively, and is working on another in theology. An American-Canadian, he lives in Vancouver, BC and has way too many hobbies.

2 replies on “2005 In Review”

Thank you for doing that Jonathan. It reminded me of what an incredible year this has been, and how truly blessed we are. I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold as we work together towards the rest of our lives. I love everybody.

Very valuable entry, Lipps! I would like to echo all of Trent’s words.

And I will add: (December 31) Jonathan and Leanne Parr, Dan, Tbone, Justin, Peter, Emilee, Trent, Natalie, and Tyson rendezvous at the Lipps pad for the second annual new year’s celebration in Orlando (with many other family friends). The Lippses hosted an awesome celebration that included the hot tub, ping pong, Congo River golf, mixed drinks, and poker (which Natalie won)–a great way to bring in the new year together.

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