2023: Travel

How did you travel in 2022? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

In 2022, I made up for all the lack of traveling by going to the Netherlands, Ohio, Portland in less than 2 months plus a stop in Arizona. In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, we stayed locally although did jet to Hawaii. In 2020, in the first year of the pandemic, I stayed local and only went to a few overnight destinations within a few hours of a drive—one before the pandemic (so it doesn’t count) and down to Central California. 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 2023, I traveled much less as predicted due to limited PTO from the new job. And it’s like…did I really want to go to many places? But here’s what I did:

  • Tahoe for a ski trip after a pause in three years. Though we actually went up for a surprise bday gift for my birthday in May during the pandemic
  • LA for my sister’s 40th! And Universal Studios plus good foodie
  • Sacramento for a weekend trip for Chris’ birthday (and a visit from my sister and Jakobe!) We also stopped by Locke, but it was well…less than.

So I guess that I didn’t leave the state at all! But we’re going to Utah next week!

Next year? I hope to get into a residency, but it feels impossible! Maybe a workshop, but I am not quite sure if I want to do that this summer. Maybe a stop in Arizona to see my sister and Jakobe. Maybe New York? Maybe this Mexico City thing? Maybe Vancouver? Maybe Hawaii for Pokemon Go?

2023: Entertainment

I recounted the most impactful entertainment pieces for me in 2014. Then I did it again for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022

Movies I Saw

Although now it’s less about the fear of going to the theater, it’s just…is it worth it? So many annoying people, a combination of rudeness and them getting me sick! So this includes some streaming

  • Oppenheimer
  • Barbie
  • Starring Jerry as Himself (my review)
  • Past Lives
  • The Menu

TV Shows I Watched

  • The Curse
  • Fargo (we are through season 1 and 2, partway through 3)
  • Jury Duty
  • Invincible
  • The Last of Us

Books I Read

  • Chain Gang All Stars
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
  • Yellowface
  • The Memory Police
  • Counterfeit

Ways to Pass the Time

  • Thinking about how to use up ingredients in the pantry for the next writing accountability grop, based on what I find in the NYT app
  • Scrolling through the news apps like NYT, New Yorker…and now WashPo
  • Whining to Chris about reducing stuffs
  • Social media browsing, especially when it gets into scrolling on TikTok and Reels. Unlike most people, my mind just gets numb and unable to be creative
  • Worried about all the age-related things that can happen to me


  • Threads, obvs
  • Bluesky, especially because I begged for an invite
  • Substack
  • Ember. It’s great when it works and it sucks when it doesn’t (which is most of the time)
  • Aranet, even though nobody cares

2023 Birthday Wishlist

Previous years: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, forgotten year in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, a forgotten year of 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

I have always waffled on this. Do we reach an age where we stop celebrating our birthdays? Is that often with the birth of a child? Where the birthday doesn’t matter anymore? That it’s barely a recognition? There’s something about it, at least for me, that I have this immense desire not to be forgotten and using my birthday as a way to signal to everyone that it’s all about me! And that this is the day that I can do anything!

  1. That Chris figures out a way out of his situation
  2. And that he doesn’t encounter any more accidents!
  3. My bones and muscles don’t deteriorate like my mom to the level where I can’t even take a short stroll or even just stand for a few minutes
  4. Get into one writing residency or workshop this year
  5. Many fruits come my way!
  6. Reduction in STUFF
  7. Finding some solace and peace in a community that gives me value and creativity

Filler words, does that make sense?

Specifically, does that make sense?

I scoured the internet for that phrase yesterday. They say that those words are often used as the speaker reached some sort of insecurity of what’s explained. I definitely try not to use it when explaining myself (although I know that there are moments where I laugh at myself and add ridiculous filler words so hopefully that makes sense)

But when asked that specific question, it immediately feels patronizing. The onus is suddenly on me to agree. Not to disagree with the question. It’s like an impulse to make the speaker feel better but of course to show that I obviously listened and that it does obviously make sense. Because if it doesn’t make sense, then that’s my fault. Maybe I might be hard on myself but that very question suggests a switch of a power dynamic. Maybe I wanted to understand and up to that point, I was believing that you were making the effort to explain it all to me. But now, I have to make the effort to understand when it was your responsibility to explain it all to me.

And well, I won’t say does that make sense?

Year 2022

2022 was well not the best, but not the worst. I keep thinking that it’s about all the foundation that I built. But maybe it’s because I have all that good old privilege. At the beginning of the year, I was forced to leave something that I wasn’t happy about. But I found my way through the year. I had not one, but two medical thingies. But I really made it a summer of writing (and BIG travel) and found my way to something else at least that felt worthwhile. I felt like I made bigger steps without forgetting everything that I was and wanted.

There were the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

And here’s to hoping that I’ll keep up the same momentum.

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2022: Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

In 2021, it was all the small moments that validates that I’ll be fine even if it was a tiered rejection letter. In 2020, it was when a product leader called attention to the quality of my work. In 2019, it was when I left my job and when Chris comforted me that we are ok. In 2018, it was realizing my own qualities. In 2017, it was giving advice in hopes of inspiring others. In 2016, it was the moment that when immersed in the election aftermath that anything could change. In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.

It was the moment that my plan (or really my hopes for the year) started happening. Partly, it was when I was invited to do a part-time job with people that I had admired forever. Then it was being invited to a speak at an international conference (and was surprised that it was fully supported). Then it was being invited to not just one, not just two, but three writing workshops during the summer. There were other little things along the way too.

In the past year, I reflected on the fact that I had built a foundation so that the year wouldn’t be bad. Because of those things that I had planned, if I had not set them in motion from the previous years with intentions, the year could have just been bad. With two medical stuffs. With swirling bad stuff all around us, it could have just been a very bad year. With other things that happened out of bad luck, it could have just been a bad year. (Although in some perspectives, that could have been any year!) But I was fine. Chris is fine.

Of course, if you look at that foundation, it is due to privilege. I have a huge safety net, not only financially, but socially. I was buoyed by the fact that if I failed, it was fine. I was going to survive. And in that respect, I took the risks because failure was actually an option and it would be a soft landing.

If you look at where I was last year, I am about in the same place. I have rarely or probably never backslided. and it’s all subjective if I moved forward. Failure is probably more about self-destructive behavior. And it’s not that at all. I will make it!

2022: Next Step

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries. In 2012, it was about being true. In 2013, it was about embracing fear. In 2014, it was sitting my butt down and writing. In 2016, it was about leading. In 2017, it was about persistence. In 2018, it was about seeing the big picture. In 2019, it was about moving on (on my own terms). In 2020, it was about valuing the things (and people) I love. In 2021, it was about deciding the next thing.

My next step is about executing. I did all the things this year to lay the foundation or so I hope. I got my novel going, with some momentum. I got a new job with clear interest, not like tepid interest and it seems like good people. I got people around me that I trust. So quite naturally, it’s about using the foundation to get me closer to where I want to go.

I hope that I will actually finish the next draft and get ready to send it out. Then do the thing with the job with satisfaction and grow the way I want to grow and not feel defined by what they want. And of course, lean into my community and fall less into those fatalistic moments.

Earlier this year, a mentor suggested that I really relish the community, that I am almost need it. I balked at her comment, because I didn’t think that I need people. But I realize that it’s not that I need them, I can do almost all these things on my own. But I do better with them. I do better if I have a community around me for accountability, for validation, and for care. I am not giving person, admittingly, but I am a receiving person. So yeah, I am ready to receive and reach my goals.

2022: Moments

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2022 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2022.

2021 5 minutes, 2020 5 minutes, 2019 5 minutes, 2018 5 minutes, 2017 5 minutes, 2016 5 minutes, 2015 5 minutes, 2014 5 minutes, 2013 5 minutes, 2012 5 minutes, 2011 5 minutes, and 2010 5 minutes

Sometimes I wonder if this is my favorite end-of-the-year entry…

  • Riding around Amsterdam on bike
  • Speaking at UX Insights Festival in Breda and getting paid/comped to do that
  • Flying business class to Amsterdam
  • Not sleeping in first class back from Amsterdam
  • Having that incredible delay to Amsterdam
  • Attending Kenyon writers workshop
  • Attending Tin House writers workshop
  • Attending Rooted and Written workshop
  • Publishing the Sisterhood podcast and writing
  • Finally getting that forthcoming essay published
  • Getting so much of my novel done
  • Visiting Sedona and doing so many hikes
  • Eating that peach pizza in Sedona
  • Spending time with Jakobe, aka babysitting and he seemed to enjoy it
  • That pregnancy thing
  • That breast thingie
  • Telling a coach that I had all these things planned for the summer
  • And then being told, wait really?
  • Enduring that tornado storm in Ohio
  • Getting a free stay in Seattle on the way back from Ohio
  • Getting the new RAV4 with no markup!
  • Having not one but two fancy anniversary dinners
  • Birthday celebration, my 40th!, at Swanton Berry Farm with yo lady!
  • Doing a holiday video so late
  • Seeing Chris happy with his coworkers
  • Seeing Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Still masking! And not catching covid, despite all those things
  • Being told that things from my novel really were that good
  • Joining the Ruby
  • Doing the ice cream thing at that fundraiser

2022: Making

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical thingsthat were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history. In 2012, I made ice cream. In 2013, I made design. In 2014, I made “my room”. In 2015, I made the last line of Ice Cream Travel Guide, literally. In 2016, I made my annual holiday video. In 2017, I made another annual holiday video. In 2018, I made scones (from the Tartine cookbook)! In 2019, I made another holiday video! In 2020, I made some minor things (a chapter and writing prompts), but of course the biggest thing was the annual holiday video! In 2021, it was of course annual holiday video, which was built on little videos that I had made throughout the year.

This year, of course, it was the annual video. But I guess in some way, this year, although it was emerging from the pandemic, there were some things that kept us from being the most creative. Even though I attended all these workshops and classes. So much of that momentum had come from previous years. So it made the year better than it could have been. All that pent up energy during the pandemic.

The annual video though was a rush in the last 24 hours—although I had conceptualized it for several weeks. Something about disastrous stories about couples had intrigued me a lot. Especially with the recent TV show of Fleishman is in Trouble. Although the book came out in 2019, it really highlighted the current times—the way that women are perceived, the way that women are assumed to be hysterical, the way that women even white women are seen as the bully, and of course, motherhood.

There was always a thrill toward the end in the making, but not as much as before. The energy to create something so tight, so perfect, so well-acted, so orchestrated always feels near impossible. Sometimes I wonder if we would ever make the next one. How could we? I barely have the production software, much less the production skills. What captures the 2022 essence? It’s so impossible to know.

But in all, there was this feeling of wanting to bake for people. I miss it always. I miss the desire to host, to create things for people, to make them feel welcome. Maybe if the weather cooperates, we’ll have the brunch together again!

2022: One Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In 2021, it was all moments after I finished creating something like after the initial Weddin video. In 2020, it was the moment(s) when I was creating. In 2019, it was the moment that I realized that he was actually…alive and whole. In 2018, it was the moment that we realized that the car would start. In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

So I had think back in all my moments. I scroll through all my photos of the year. Because yes, I knew that I did a lot of stuff—those writing workshops, giving a talk in the Netherlands, reading my work, etc. All of it, but as I scrolled, I remembered the many moments when insecurity and loneliness would overwhelm me. Despite the fact that it’s been years since high school, I still encounter moments of whether I am fitting in. I find myself standing on the borders even of spaces where I have been deliberately invited, not excluded, where the conversations are beyond me or that I just don’t get it. Of course, I can easily that in moments where I am lauded for my achievements, it’s the best. But I guess that it’s never good enough. I am not appreciating my achievements then, because of the achievement itself, but it’s almost like I used them to curry favor. It’s stupid to say it, because it’s as if I am seeking the answer to: do they like me?

But I think that it comes with the reentry into the world. The pandemic, especially the early days, allowed me to just appreciate my achievement exactly for what it was. Because there was no reason to seek affirmation, because nobody was around me.

And interestingly, as I really think back about the moment that I felt alive, it really was when I was receiving the unconditional celebration. Like all those moments in Sedona with Chris. That trip was intended to be a reprieve from those hard first few months of the year—to see my sister and her kid…and to rest. In Sedona, Chris and I hiked—something that I had always disliked, especially after doing it in Peru. But in Sedona, because everything was so short, it wasn’t too bad. I remember climbing Cathedral Rock, doing the whole walk around Airport Loop, and the others. I guess Cathedral Rock. Where we were able to climb and climb. And even though I was freaked out at some points (and definitely later too), I did it. I did it as we passed a woman who had decided to not go any further and was frozen on a plateau. I had slowly pushed my way up, maybe with some prodding. And when we reached the peak, I did the whole 360 Instagram view. It was incredible even though it was marked by all the IG filters and those things.

I felt the grandness and the serenity around me. It was a perfect trip even though it was contained to a domestic place.