2020: One Word

One Word. Encapsulate the year in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2020 for you?

From years past: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010

The one word that captures this year:
Grief

Maybe it’s because I am writing two prose pieces that have to do with grieving. One about how my grandmother passed away last year and its effect (and primarily its lack of effect) on me. The other to do with things I miss that will be gone and things I don’t miss. With grief in the pieces’ title, that word is so omnipresent.

It’s ironic, though, because I typically write these entries about a word that is uplifting from resilience to understanding. But how can I really summarize this year? If the pandemic didn’t happen in the way that it did, I probably would say something like comfort or authenticity or truth, because of all the feelings that I can truly be myself since I am at home so much without worrying about what other people think of me. And yet.

I grieve for the loss of the businesses, for the loss of art, for others’ hope and dreams dashed. And at the same time, I know that I am comforted by so many things—I am so free, but that comes out of being in a privileged place and how can I say this in the face of tragedy? How can I say that I am so glad not to have to hug when everyone else is falling apart due to no touch? How can I say that I love sleeping in my own bed when businesses, cities, countries are decimated by the lack of tourism? I am troubled because I am one person and I can’t celebrate my own happiness in face of so much despair. It feels inappropriate. And yet. There’s a ring of truth, isn’t it?

I hear stories of people. Everyday. The struggle of not seeing a loved one. The loss of a dream business. The slow death. They tear my heart. And yet I couldn’t shed a tear for my grandmother. The internal conflict is too much. I grieve for people I don’t know, but I can’t grieve for my own.

Or maybe the word is numbness. I am perfectly happy wearing a mask even beyond the mandatory order. I am perfectly happy seeing nobody. I am perfectly happy cooking, cleaning, etc. on my own. I isolate myself, but everything else is still…there. I am here.

Last year I thought this year’s word would be Gratitude. It could be. But I have been cynical of it late. Is it gratitude if it’s I am grateful that my family didn’t ask me to come to Thanksgiving or I am grateful that my family respects social distancing and mask wearing? I remember earlier sharing that as a gratitude “ice breaker” during a meeting, but it felt like a downer. But I couldn’t help it.

Well next year, another word. I am not in dire straits, so it can’t possibly be survival. But I really hope that it’s hope.

2020: Travel

I mean, this is the most 2020 post of my yearly reflections. But here we go!

How did you travel in 200? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

In 2019, I made a big trip to Japan and many domestic trips to Phoenix, Portland, and New York. In 2018, I traveled very domestically, mostly local for retreats in Ukiah, Scotts Valley, and Big Sur. Then San Diego for a work thing. And a trip to Squaw Valley. And a crazy long adventure through Chicago and New York. In 2017, I traveled to Minnesota for work, LA twice for “fun”, Las Vegas for a not-so-good fun, and Thailand/Myanmar! Also somehow forgot to mention Cincinnati for MidwestUX! And did I forgot to mention Phoenix? In 2016, I traveled to Finland/Sweden for my first big speaking gig, Portland for a “bachelorette” party, road trip to LA for my sister’s wedding, and Minnesota for work. In 2015, I went to Brazil for a conference, multiple work trips, and a midwest trip. In 2014, I went on multiple weekend trips, increased business trips, and found a destination for ice cream and writing. In 2013, I finished off the bulk of the travel for the Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2012, I started the journey of a life and went to what I thought was unfathomable (in my life) — six domestic destinations and eight international destinations — for professional and personal reasons. In 2011, I went on one international trip, one domestic…and one super local. In 2010, I went on one international trip and multiple domestic trips.

In 2020, I went locally:

  • writing retreat in Scotts Valley
  • overnight in Avila Beach, because a friend broke up with his girlfriend and his reservation was nonrefundable
  • day trip to Orr Hot Springs (so yes I did predict this!)
  • day trip to Brentwood to pick fruit
  • day trips to visit my parents…like three times
  • and a few times that I cannot remember anymore in January and February to somewhere in the Bay Area
  • Literally, nowhere.

    Around this time last year, I was in the midst of getting a new job. I did get that new job which I knew would send me to New York and potentially work-related destinations like Europe or Asia. But nothing of that sort happened. Plus there was the issue of Chris’ post concussion syndrome which meant that I had been reluctant to travel without him since things are just better with him.

    Of course, the pandemic happened. Not that I had anything planned, but I hoped to visit Phoenix to see my sister (barring that issue with the BIL), visit Spain and Japan for work…and having gotten into a writing workshop, Portland. And who knows what else! Part of me is grateful for the pause, because I had begun to hate the idea of airplanes, a recent inability to sleep in a bed that’s not mine (I like my 600+ thread count sheets and my pillow and perfect temperature), and just the headache of planning. But still, the excitement of discovery which was the thing I enjoyed the most…is gone.

    When I think of next year, I think of hope of course. But where do I really want to travel? I want to travel to places with discovery. New York. Japan. I want to see my sister. The spots that I have always wanted to visit—New Zealand, Singapore, Korea. But really, I have no idea really. It’s all a matter of whether I want to do it in the first place.

    Top 10 Most Influential People of the Decade (to me): 2010s edition

    I did it then, so let’s do it again!

    I am surprised that I had put down the former manager at Method for my last list. Interestingly, I didn’t really talk to her after I left Method. Beyond a short sweet moment where she actually supported my Kickstarter and a brief attempt for consulting, I only saw her life pass me by from afar.

    So let’s see. It should be easy to name 10!

    Okay, after more than an hour, it really isn’t. Unlike my previous lists, the names couldn’t come easily. I looked through my contacts, people I talked to on Google Hangouts and Facebook messenger, email, elsewhere. I wonder if it’s because I have a more cynical view of people now unlike the optimism that I had 10 years ago. Also, like most people, I now reject the idea of celebrity and influencer culture. I don’t believe that a single person should be obsessed over. And yet, who really influenced me? Or is it just entities rather than individuals?

    10. 45
    Because you know that he doesn’t deserve a name. Before the election, I joked about him winning, thinking that I would move to another country if it happened. Of course, it did happen, but I did not move. But it made me rethink what my purpose was in work and life. Like could I really make a difference? And the type of people I wanted to surround myself with? It made me…as they say…more woke. It made me more aware of the things that I say and do that could affect others. It made me question how I wanted to treat others and how I wanted to be treated.

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