2022: 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 2022 for you?

From years past: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010

The one word that captures this year:

Last year, I thought this word’s year would be optimism. And it was in some way. But more than that, I believed that manifested many things. There’s something about outlining hopes and dreams at the beginning of the year. Although I wasn’t exactly creating a whole plan, I believed in each goal and activity so much that it must have been embodied in me.

I wanted a new meaningful job, which I found. I wanted to attend writing workshops and submit work. Did it. I wanted to put more energy in my novel. Done. I wanted to speak at a conference. Done. I wanted to meet people outside of the people I know. Done. And so on and on.

The year started with an incredible stumble, but I survived. I guess you could say that I was at the bottom and the only direction was up. The goals I set for myself weren’t so hard as I had achieved them in small ways previously. But I really made it all happen. Even though I didn’t LOVE every minute.

A coach asked me at the beginning of the year asked me what I planned to do after leaving that job. I listed all of those things. Her reaction was surprise. All of that, she asked. Yes, I said, I will probably do all of them. She paused and said, thank you for letting me come on your journey. I thought that it was annoying, because I would never list all of those things if I wasn’t going to do them. But the thing that people often don’t get about me is that I won’t love those things. I constantly have to make sure that it’s something that I will enjoy and not do it just because I said I would. Although if I reflect back, it’s about reframing those opportunities into something greater, because there’s always a benefit for all of them.

So I hope the next year will be more of the same—with maybe a more thoughtful diligence. There’s a part of me that wants to drop everything that dragged me down. But FOMO comes back, because in the things that I dislike, there’s light. I am not going to sacrifice myself for others. I don’t believe in solipsism, but I will have to make sure that things are still for me.

Next year then: Connection.

I want to build more meaningful relationships. I had envisioned myself building a community, but after some observation this year and reflection, I realize that I don’t have in it. The community building aspect. So maybe it’s about the skill? Or maybe it’s just not me. Like so many people, I just want to belong.

2022: Travel

Now with that whole burnout recovery, I traveled. And did that whole summer of writing!

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

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 2022, I traveled to:

  • Arizona! First to Sedona for vaccay where we actually HIKED and enjoyed it. Partly because it was nice to see Chris tackling things and maybe a part obsession with Instagrammable moments. And how a holiday can be enjoyable if cool. Then to Gilbert (Phoenix Metro) to visit my sister/Jakobé. We were tasked with babysitting Jakobé which taught me exactly what it’s like to parent (it’s hard!) I have to say that masking was like…less than ideal
  • Netherlands. The impetus was giving a talk at UX Insights Festival. Then I essentially built a trip around it. Seems like anything that I wish into the world (get paid for a talk!) can happen. First, Breda and its sleepy town. Then several days in Amsterdam for touristy moments from cycling to museum hopping.
  • Gambier in Ohio, near Columbus. Kenyon Summer Writing Workshop! So amazing (but also it made me super cautious about covid…which is associated with my social anxiety. Also stopped by Columbus to see Lisa.
  • Portland. For Tin House…finally in-person after having done it online in 2020. It was very good re: covid so I was thrilled and safe in some way. But my social anxiety kicked up in the awful ways.
  • Didn’t get a chance to do New York. But did make it to Arizona and most importantly to a summer writing workshop. And somewhere for fun. AND definitely didn’t go anywhere for work.

    Next year? Well I definitely hope New York for a summer writing workshop. Would like to go just for fun, but I can’t justify it. I had thought about going to Seattle for AWP in March, but it just seems…too much? Fortunately with my current job, I don’t have to travel anywhere (yay!) Considering the limited vacation, I don’t know where exactly I can go, but maybe somewhere locally—Tahoe perhaps?

    2022: Entertainment

    2022. I remember when my sister said it’s…2020 TWO. Like the sequel. Almost, but definitely not at all.

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

    Movies I Saw

    Still hesitant to go to a theater, BUT I saw THINGS. Even if it’s later on streaming

    • NOPE
    • Everything Everywhere All At Once
    • Bodies Bodies Bodies
    • Prey
    • Blue Island (only because it’s about Hong Kong)

    TV Shows I Watched

    • Euphoria
    • Succession
    • The Bear
    • The Rehearsal
    • Severance

    Books I Read

    • Dept. of Speculation
    • Cat Person and Other Stories
    • Friday Black
    • Dictee (only because it’s like I discovered so many decades later)
    • The School for Good Mothers

    Ways to Pass the Time

    • Setting writing challenges for myself even though it shouldn’t matter
    • Browsing recipes on NYT recipe app and dreaming about what to make next with what I have
    • Cleaning???
    • Going down a rabbit hole on a movie or tv show, which actually is soothing
    • Thinking of ways to keep up with the Joneses like buying a house


    This category, I have to admit, doesn’t amuse me as much as it used to, because sometimes the technology just sucks and doesn’t get to the point of actual need.

    • BeReal (after quitting IG, I wanted to see what all the young people do and this was that, but I don’t really want to get that deep)
    • AI-generated work, but I still have yet to do it on my own photos as not to skirt the ethical line of crediting real artists
    • ADPList, for better or worse
    • Teams (at least for the ONLY good thing like chat actually stays!)
    • Rediscovering how to use Miro/Mural in a way that I didn’t think to do previously

    Stories about travel headaches are long and boring

    “I can one-up you,” I said after hearing a fellow writer describe her boyfriend’s long flight travel delay.

    And so begins the story that I tell about the three weeks of travel in the Netherlands and Ohio. Of course, I could have started with beautiful, inspiring stories about the (positive) things I did—relief and wonder of being outside of the country, new foods, new people, giving a conference talk, writing workshops, self-discovery and all that woo woo stuff. But sometimes to me, those things are boring and I cannot help but resort to stories about that-was-so-bad-and-you-don’t-want-to-do-this. Perhaps an internal desire not to have someone follow my path?

    I first talk about the nearly six hour delay of my flight to the Netherlands. But sometimes I might neglect to mention that I wasn’t in the economy class—a sign of privileged comforts. The lack of cleaning staff. The sudden medical emergency that forced a landing in Salt Lake City. The despair that as I looked out the window, I saw the fuel release, feeling like everything I had done to reduce my climate footprint in the last few years had disappeared right in that moment. The refueling and restocking of the catering supplies. The wait for maintenance and everything else. In all, a seventeen-hour ordeal of being in a metal tube reminded me why I disliked flying (the discomfort primarily of being squeezed in a singular position for hours on end among people I don’t want to be around), which started around when I started interviewing for Ice Cream Travel Guide. What I don’t mention of course were the surprisingly easy transiting afterward (minus the time it took to orient in a new city) from cycling, city light rail, and regional trains. And of course my return flight.

    Then I lament the woes of my Ohio travel. The power outage in 90 degree humid weather for almost 24 hours in the areas where I was lodging. And how the power outage continued in some buildings including the dining hall. The worry that I was in unventilated spaces (but I had to EAT!) And how the airline made me stay overnight in Seattle because they rescheduled the second leg of my flight and the only available substitute flights (without just taking a full refund and paying more for another unpartnered airline) were the following morning.

    I say all of this and then I mention that a writing instructor in one of the first writing classes (Travel Writing!) I took as an adult once mentioned that essays about travel headaches are boring. “Don’t write about them,” she said.

    And now, I say, “You can’t inspire anyone with that kind of story. Everyone experiences it. And because you learn nothing. Except that you don’t ever want to do it again.”

    2022 Birthday Wishlist

    Previous years: 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

    This morning as I was walking to the coworking space, I realized that I have to embrace this very fact: I am entering the fourth decade of my life. It’s common for people at this age to hide the age. So people do. But why be ashamed? Because there’s younger people? Because there’s ageism (yes, it’s real.) But let’s start: I AM TURNING 40.

    1. A sleep sac I thought about swaddling and wanted it for myself
    2. Good quality stone fruit and other fruits!
    3. Lower risk for those inherited body stuff
    4. Publication of my Listening to My Minor Feelings essay. Like somewhere, please!
    5. Progress on my novel(s)
    6. Some determination of how I want my income-generating life to go
    7. Identification of the home
    8. Better sleep
    9. Improvement on my goal on building deeper friendship and relationships to the community

    Post-op and all

    It’s done! I guess that I had prepared myself for the worst outcome post-op. But all is fine, similar to my previous surgery on my hand. I went in and then out with a sudden thing on my hand…and hip! The recovery for hip was more challenging than the hand.

    As I was recovering from anesthesia, I was groggy, but at some point, I lucid enough to answer questions and tell the nurse that I didn’t want oxycontin. I mumbled something about how I was writing an essay in my head, but really I was eavesdropping to what the nurses were chatting about—something about epidural and what not.

    But now just over 24 hours later, the only things that remain is the bandage with no pain! But for whatever reason, I am seeing things blurry but the internet (and also my sister who is an optometrist) assured me that it will resolve in a few days. But this is bugging more than usual I guess, because I was thinking that I would read and things while recovering! Now it’s just hard!

    This time with TMI

    My last surgery was in 2006 when I was a young 24 for THE hand. I briefly blogged about the pre-op and post-op experience, which barely was anything. I remember being in more pain than necessary because I decided that I wanted to harvest bone from my hip than use synthetic. What was I thinking! I don’t remember being told much of complications or risks. As noted, I asked about consent as I was being wheeled into the OR, but then nothing!

    And now older and wiser…and put into a position that I should do yet another highly recommended but elective surgery, I have too much information. I have watched the videos and read articles about the risks. I have searched on Google, Twitter, Facebook about the thing. Horror stories surface. I read about the fear and anxiety. And even though I was completely calm and more annoyed at the disruption to my routine, it caused me to think a bit more. What if I don’t wake up? What if I am deformed? What if what if? But it’s all very ridiculous, of course. I am young and healthy. I have a safety net in case things go awry. I had an easy recovery last time, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. But but but! Knock on wood.

    Interestingly, they offered me this podcast—specifically a combination of meditation and imagery practice. My immediate impulse is obviously, that this isn’t for me. I am not anxious. I don’t need this. But of course, there was a whole mention about how in research studies, it proved useful in decreasing recovery time and increasing healing (although I have to think that the people inclined to do this had healthy practices, to begin with).

    On my last day before, I’ll prepare with a few things as recommended—antiseptic wipes, carbohydrate drink, the last shower, the last meal. And then maybe I’ll see you soon on the other side.

    This time, do I want to ask for a video? Not sure!

    What does it feel like two years later?

    Today is the fourteenth year of using Twitter. That anniversary is less resonant than what happened (generally) two years ago. It was that week about two years ago that many things happened.

    On March 5th, my work (at the time) declared that we’ll be all working from home. Interestingly, I was meeting with a coworker who was visiting from the NY office and so we skipped that all hands for our meeting. Because the culture was that the all hands meeting wasn’t that important. At the time, I admit that I was thinking that Covid was just some far off thing like SARs, but yes we should take precaution. And then, when I returned to my desk later, I heard coworkers say to each other, “See you in a month!”

    I quickly browsed to the company internal wiki and saw what was happening. Okay, sounds good.

    But outside of work? On March 8th, against the general health guidance and also Chris’ situation, Chris and I went to a gathering of cyclists to honor a colleague who was crushed by a truck while cycling. At the time, we didn’t know how covid transmitted outside. And thinking back, I was taking a risk. But it was important to talk about the unneeded tragedy of cyclists death. Especially since Chris came so close to experiencing the same thing.

    And then, we went around on our usual routine to boba, plant stores, grocery stores. And then one last meal with my parents in Pleasant Hill on March 14th at a restaurant where they wanted to use a gift card. Even though Chris and I had scorned anyone who was eating in a restaurant. What were we doing? And I remember how a server coughed and everyone at the table winced.

    Little did we know.’

    Now two years later. Everything changed. But also nothing changed. I am sitting at my desk. Left that job. Recovering from burnout and some PTSD. Still hoping to revise my forever novel. I now have a ring on my finger. I know more about the state of my health (it’s fine in some way). Our car. But the world. The president is different. But the world in some ways because that’s the way we think, it feels worse. Tragedy after tragedy. Conspiracy after conspiracy. But is it. I am typing at a new computer with music blasting from Spotify (although I really shouldn’t). I am spending money on various forms of selfcare (namely, writing classes and the new hobby of scrapbooking). And most of all, I still haven’t caught covid.

    Knock on wood.

    Year 2021

    2021 was kind of almost like 2020, but I really believe that it was better. Fortunately, nobody in my family and circle of friends suffered at least from covid. Outside of the childcare, job, pressures, media, misinformation. Have we gotten to the bottom yet? There are hopes like an invitation to Bali, in-person writing workshops, and everything else?

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

    May 2022 be better. And just 2020 TOO?

    Continue reading

    2021: 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 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.

    At the global level, it should have been the vaccines. It should have been that. It should have been the moment that I was waiting in line for my first dose of Pfizer (I admit that I got in line a few hours before people in my age group were qualified). I stared at everyone around me—fellow SF residents, the SF General staff, and thought…it’s going to be over. Now after a variant and yet another one, it’s still not done. It’s the antivaxxers. It’s the discovery that my sister’s mother-in-law is unvaccinated. It’s the growing number of covid cases around me. And at the national level, it should have been when Trump was silenced on social media and the aftermath of the insurrection should have been proof of that. It should have been a new political administration and everything else. But it wasn’t.

    I am privileged to have a safety net—both socially, healthwise, and financially. A reasonable environment, primarily progressive.

    And yet.

    What is the best moment that everything’s going to be alright? It’s always the small moments that validates that I’ll be fine. From the job. For the future. For the writing. For my goals. That I keep reminding myself that who I am and who I want to be…and even how I want to spend my time isn’t dependent on money and keeping up with the Joneses.

    It’s these moments of being told that my work is good—whether it’s that income-generating type or that my essay is good enough. It’s being told by writing programs that they loved my work (and then some weird line about how there wasn’t enough space for me). It’s being told that they appreciate me. It’s receiving all those messages. It’s even as simple as waking up and thinking, Hey I am still alive and happy in my pocket.

    Maybe it’s this moment that I had with my therapist although I detest it a lot—that I have rarely ever been someone who doesn’t act. Whether it’s a good or bad thing, after college (or maybe grad school), I made a decision that I will not be frozen. I will always keep going. I kept myself accountable for that for so many years, tracking what I did and who I was with. Then I started to enjoy making my to-do lists. Not because I enjoyed the task itself, but I enjoyed the thrill of telling myself that I completed it. I loved checking things off even if it was as ridiculous as putting things back, cleaning dishes, buying something, making a phone call. Little things matter. And all of that action has made me forget what it would be like not to do something. As much as anxiety and depression can creep up for me, it doesn’t freeze me. Yes, I may sprial into what they call unhelpful thoughts, but the act of doing keeps going. Because I always believe that there’s something around the corner. The itch that I have not to feel sad or anxious is always relieved by action.

    So let’s act.