It's the last day of the year. It was a year of ups and downs. One thing this year wasn't is a year of peace. It was also not the best year for my blog.

The main themes of this year for me were the new apartment, my family, the war, and my mental health. I would much rather have this be a year of family, apartment, chess, and photography - but that just wasn't the case.

I think I will definitely remember this year as the year I bought my first home. It was a slow process, it took a lot of energy, and while I am happy where we ended up, there's definitely room for many improvements - within these walls and in future homes. I am grateful that we found a place with no vis-a-vis, in Batignolles (some 200m away from where we were), and with an extra bedroom that serves as Anna's office. I do wish there was an elevator, and more direct sun, and the floors were not so noisy. Maybe I'll replace the floor next year. Home improvement will be a huge project in 2024.

Family-wise, this year was really good. It wasn't without struggles, but I got to host my grandparents in my own living room! This was really a dream come true — this is the first time they visited me in Paris since I moved in 2014. It's hard to ask for more. And yet there is more: my brother and his +1 came for Christmas, and my parents are setting up their house in Cyprus.

From the mental health perspective, this year was pretty challenging. Again — after a couple of years of covid and a year of war. But this year I started developing better coping mechanism than just working out. I am grateful to my wife Anna, the Pussy Riot and their exhibition in Montreal, and to Andrey Makarevich and his music, and to Pyotr Verzilov, and to Linor Goralik for Bobo, and my friends, and to my brother. You all gave me hope and strength and ideas.

On a related note, since the Israeli-Palestine war restarted, I had quit instagram and reading news for a few weeks. Since then, I've reintroduced them two times a week - on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I think it was a good decision: life changes fast, but not that fast. Checking in on my friends' life and the Ukraine battlefields on a daily basis doesn't make anything better. In the year to come, I hope to share a bit more of my life, here and on Instagram.

For chess, my 2023 was abysmal. The best I can claim is my 160+ days streak in daily puzzles on and one win I scored against my grandpa. My rating barely moved. Clearly, if I want to advance, I need to change my attitude.

For photography, this year was a mixed bag. I feel like I have done more film photography than digital. I realized my dream and received a darkroom training in wonderful Emulsion lab with Elizabeth (thank you for tagging along, it was fun!). I shot a bunch of Polaroids, and my Rollei 35S that replaced my half-broken 35SE, and enjoyed the tiny Tiara Cardia mini. I should probably write a post about each of these. In digital, I feel like I regressed a bit, but maybe started getting back into it towards the end of the year. Next year, I hope for a few more sessions at the darkroom, and taking some good portraits.

I got to travel a lot this year. I spent a few weeks in Paphos, visited Arina in Montreal, tried alpine ski in the German Alps, had a short work trip to LA and even managed to drop by SF to meet some friends, went to Fruhlingsfest with a bunch of crazy people, spent a month in Chamonix (and then came back for a weekend), drooled over the furniture shops in Copenhagen, and celebrated my brother's 25th birthday in Munich... Though it was sometimes a bit hectic, and stressful, and not very well planned, I saw the world more than I had hoped.

Some of the best new objects in my life this year are: my snowboard with Burton Step On bindings, the Kef R3 (non-meta) speakers, the 1966 Omega Seamaster (automatic, with date) that I got from my old friend Pete Schaffner, a sink glass and bottle rinser, Airpods Pro 3 with their volume controls, Birkenstocks (both sandals and ergonomic insoles), the Mint Flash Bar 2, and the Opinel knife. The objects that continue serving me like champs are the Leica M11, the Macbook Pro 14", the Apple Watch Ultra, the tiny Xgimi Halo projector, my Côte&Ciel Isar backpack from 10 years ago, and the Polaroid SX-70.

Thank you 2023 for everything good you brought to my life. Thank you everyone who helped me get through the hard times, and thank you for sharing the happy moments.

I hope 2024 will be a year of peace, hope, and love.

Mirror selfie with grey cat Quark taken with a Rollei 35S.
There should be a lot of pictures in this article, but I'm rushing to post at least something before the end of the year, so here we are.