Looking Back on 2014

I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

It’s not just because this year-end posts are time-consuming and I always forget something. If you recall last year’s post, I ended 2013 feeling really proud of myself for having accomplished so much. And I was proud of myself because I had consciously said “yes” to opportunities rather than saying “no”, as I usually do.

Unfortunately, in 2014, I didn’t say “yes” as much as I wanted to.

I won’t sugarcoat it: 2014 was difficult for me. This past summer was especially unkind to me, definitely one of the worst I’ve experienced thus far. Life is full of ups and downs; where 2013 proved to have more ups, 2014 had a not-insignificant number of downs.

As I write this, I am laughing to myself in spite of how painful this past year has been because well, this is almost exactly how I began my 2013 recap post, with a bit of yammering about ups and downs. Man, if only I knew it could get worse! I know now: Next year can always be worse.

But let’s not get bogged down in how much 2014 tested me. After all, I survived it! I live to fight another day. Let’s see what I survived this year:

  • Managed to have a little fun with our extreme polar vortex cold weather
  • Went to Atlantic City with my boyfriend and friends for Yelp’s Winter Break
  • Survived a small car accident (and learned to really fear driving in inclement weather)
  • Celebrated Chinese New Year in with my family in China for the first time
    • Set off legit fireworks
    • Visited Harbin’s Ice & Snow Festival
    • Saw a North Korean ice-skating troupe perform
    • Achieved a new nosebleed record (and had to have my nose cauterized twice when I came home)
  • Live-tweeted the 86th Academy Awards out of loneliness
    A sample of some of my live-tweets from early on in the evening.
  • Participated (sorta) in the March DisneyBound Challenge

    Marie (The Aristocats)
    Marie from The Aristocats
  • Completed (almost) BEDA (Blog Every Day April)
  • Started a new job
  • Went on my first bar crawl

    Commemorative mugs that change color when you put an icy beverage in!
    Commemorative mugs that change color when you put an icy beverage in!
  • Attended a Wale & Big Sean concert

    Not pictured: Big Sean, Wale
  • Purchased this domain name you are visiting right now
  • Made a flower crown
  • Took another family vacation on a cruise ship

  • Trekked to New York for one of my too-rare solo pilgrimages to my old home city
  • Saw The Fray live at the National Zoo

    • Visited the National Zoo for the first time!
  • Left a new job
  • Ate a pork blood + lard cupcake — and liked it

    Pork blood red velvet cupcake with lard frosting and pork cracklings on top… maybe the least kosher thing I’ve ever had
  • Attended the first wedding of my own age/friend group (!!!)

    Congrats again to Emily and Phil! Thanks for sharing this day with us 🙂
  • Received my first wedding invitation for my own friend group
  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner on my own

    Complete with folded napkins
  • Got a one-year membership to the National Aquarium

Let me tell you one of my main takeaways from 2014: I do love dressing up. Whether it’s for holidays…

St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick’s Day, wearing basically all the green I own

… DisneyBounds…

Mickey Mouse (Oscar night)
Mickey Mouse for the Oscars

… or for work…

Channeling the Cho Chang that never was with power couple Megan and Don (@andmegansaid and @thedonofgaming)
All aboard! Fun fact: Several people thought I was a real flight attendant who had stumbled upon a travel-themed party?
Ringmaster outfit for our Halloween party
Sassy Santa?

… I’m more than happy to dress for the occasion. I hope that I got more chances to do so, but I’m really finding a lot of enjoyment in coordinating an outfit around a theme, and I’m going to be incorporating that enjoyment into my resolutions for next year.


As always, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something from this past year. (Last year, I forgot that I saw Turquoise Jeep live!) But the important thing is that I survived this year. I can feel a real change in the person I am now versus who I was a year ago. It makes me kind of anxious and nervous about 2015 and what it will bring.

But regardless of how I feel, the sun will set and rise, another day will be there, and another calendar year will be upon us. I have my new planner ready to go, and I’m getting my resolutions post ready. I’m going to take the lessons I learned from 2013 and 2014 and try to make the best of 2015.

Thank you for your support during 2014. My year would have been so different without it.

Looking Back on 2013

I am currently writing my annual resolutions post. Often, resolutions blog posts make me feel really frustrated with what I haven’t yet accomplished. They’re rarely things like “Continue to be awesome!” or “Keep being perfect!”

Even though this was another admittedly difficult year, I am more than aware of how many wonderful things happened this year.

So, without further ado, a quick little rundown of the things I accomplished this year that made me happy and/or proud:

  • I took a voice class
  • I played intramural basketball
  • I had an A+ in a biology class, if only for a brief moment
  • I produced, directed, and starred in a short film for class
  • I graduated college
    Stone and I on graduation day
  • I watched my brother graduate high school
  • I quit being pre-med
  • I saw Saturn
  • I started getting help
  • I began blogging more regularly
    • I made new friends as a result
  • I had my wisdom teeth removed
  • I got a smartphone whoa
  • I became Yelp Elite
    Embedded image permalink
  • I went to Europe, where I was able to check off bucket list places like:
    • London
      • I took my first-ever bike tour

        Helmet = ready!
        Helmet = ready!
    • Paris
    • Berlin
    • St. Petersburg
      • I learned that I should not be THAT scared of vodka

        Coming soon in my St. Petersburg posts!
        Coming soon in my St. Petersburg posts!
    • Copenhagen
    • Helsinki
    • Stockholm
    • Tallinn
  • I experienced a cruise ship for the first time

    2013-08-03 20.09.32
    The views were unreal.
  • I sang karaoke in front of strangers
  • I attended the Maryland Crab & Beer Festival
    2013-08-17 17.50.59
  • I attended two free, very different, movie screenings and thoroughly enjoyed them both
  • I finally walked along the Brooklyn Bridge
    2013-09-28 16.01.40
  • I ran my first-ever 5K (and lived!)
    My first time wearing numbers pinned to my shirt?
  • I attended my first-ever real concert

  • I took a ballet class

    My ballet classmates, instructor, and myself on the right.
    My ballet classmates, instructor, and myself on the right.
  • I met Buzz Aldrin

    Getting a signed book (and a compliment!) from Buzz Aldrin
    Getting a signed book (and a compliment!) from Buzz Aldrin
  • I sort of met Ice Cube

    Yeah, I could've touched him, no big deal.
    Yeah, I could’ve touched him, no big deal.

I had my Snow White costume featured on the Disneybound blog

Thank you Brittany for this screenshot!
Thank you Brittany for this screenshot!
  • I visited the Wall Street bull for the first time


All in all, I was so incredibly fortunate to have all of these experiences and more this year. I’m happy to have been able to experience these wonderful things and that I was able to share almost all of them here with my small bunch of readers.

I think that 2013, with its extreme ups and extreme downs, has made me a better person than I was in 2012. I’ve become more of a person of action. Mind you, I still have a long ways to go with this, but I didn’t say no to as many opportunities that I wanted so badly to say yes to. Resume vocal training? No more talking about it, time to register for a class and sing. Take up ballet again? Oh, maybe I could… or maybe I’ll just register for a class and dance.

I tried to not just talk about doing things with the false air of being too busy to actually do them. In truth, I was, and often am, too embarrassed to do things, Singing in front of complete strangers without a spotlight blinding me to their presence? Biking around a city that I don’t know? Paying MONEY to RUN even though I am slow and have poor endurance?

What’s more is that many of these experiences are actually the result of my own agency. Yes, my dad booked us for the bike tour, but I’m the one who called it to his attention and suggested it. He bought my tickets to The Nutcracker but only because he knew how badly I wanted to see it. (So badly that I was actually vocal about it, instead of willing people with my non-existent psychic powers to know.)

I am proud of myself for many of the things I accomplished, but maybe I’m most proud that I acted on things I wanted to do. Instead of “Oh, I wish I could do this…” I actually got up and did. I feel empowered by my newfound sense of agency.

This is what assures me that I will be a better person in 2014.
This is why I am grateful for 2013.


I have been reading magazines for a very long time. Getting one in the mail is always so exciting to me. I would run to my room with a fresh magazine in hand, no crinkles or folds or anything, and read the entire thing cover to cover. Here’s a little timeline of my magazine history, ending with the magazines that I read today.

(Note: All magazine covers are of issues that I actually owned unless otherwise noted.)

Highlights for Children

I stopped getting Highlights over 13 years ago, so finding a cover photo has been too difficult. The covers look so different now. 😦

I was subscribed to Highlights for a few years and, man, how I loved it. Goofus and Gallant, those tricky Hidden Pictures, the adorable Timbertoe family. One of my goals was to have something of mine published in Highlights but I was never proud enough of anything to send in. (Or maybe I just was always too lazy to send something in?) And I loved the crafts even though I made maybe 3 in my entire life. I got those subscription cards from school and I bought into it for a few years before my parents decided I was maybe getting a little too old for it.


Not to worry, I found a new magazine to replace it in my life a little while later.

American Girl

I was subscribed to American Girl for a couple of years! This was back in the olden days, when a wee Victoria Justice was on a cover!

https://i0.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/52d65a3e3267f2e1e1a842f3efb59aed/tumblr_mjfdilTjro1rnllcuo1_500.jpgI loved AG, as we were told to call it. I aspired to be a cover girl for this magazine. I liked that this magazine was tailored for girls and had crafts, stories, advice, all kinds of great stuff. When they introduced the MINI version of the magazine to cut out and assemble, I was all sorts of giddy.Alas, I started getting older and the content started changing a little. I was aging out of AG and the content changes reflected that. It was time to move on to some tween-teen magazines.

YM (Your Magazine)

Oh Orlando Bloom. I think this was my first issue.

I don’t even know how I learned about YM… but I was subscribed until the magazine went under. 😦 This is where I started learning about celebrities, makeup, fashion… the stuff that fuels most of the female magazine industry. I didn’t apply any of it, really, but I have to say that I learned a LOT and I was actually really sad that the magazine tanked. This was also the first magazine for which I followed their website, but that soon folded as well.

Teen Vogue

https://i0.wp.com/www.harrymedia.com/data/media/414/cover.jpgSince my subscription hadn’t quite run its course, I received maybe 5 issues of Teen Vogue following the collapse of YM.

I did not like Teen Vogue. It was half advertisements, so finding any actual content was difficult. Then when I did find content, it was so much high fashion that I could not afford and didn’t care enough about anyway. I would dread reading these but still comb through in the hopes that maybe SOMETHING would be of value. I would enjoy maybe 1-2 items per issue. It was a dark time. I needed something to fill the hole that YM left.


https://i0.wp.com/eil.com/images/main/Mariah+Carey+-+Cosmo+Girl+-+MAGAZINE-363475.jpgCosmoGirl! or CG, as I was told to call it, filled that void really well. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that it was the spin-off of the risqué Cosmopolitan magazine but I liked it a lot. It had everything I liked in YM, basically. This helped me learn what society wanted me to be as a tween girl. At one point, there was even a little CG manga story in there! I liked that a lot.

But I liked it. I learned different ways to make my hair nicer (it was very chemically damaged from perms and highlight jobs at the time) and my skin smoother (I had just realized that there was a name for the bumps on my face – keratosis pilaris). It was a good run, but that, too, had to end.

It would be a while before I would have my own magazine subscription again. High school was more or less magazine-less. But in college, I started reading a few that today I still keep up with on their websites and through my parents’ subscription.


I don’t like Sarah Silverman but I loved the “Why Things Suck” feature

My brother got a subscription to Wired most recently in our house, but we had a subscription a few years ago. I now follow Wired online only, primarily through their Facebook promotion of articles. I love reading their articles. It’s mostly tech-oriented, which is good for me to learn more about something I don’t really know a whole lot about, but there are lots of great articles about science, design, innovation, business. I love it.

Women’s Health

The last issue I received in the mail

I had started reading some other magazines that were less “women’s fluff” and more serious, primarily Time and Wired (see below), but I still wanted something that was going to make me physically feel like a better person. I like reading about keeping myself healthy – healthy food, healthy body, healthy face, healthy mind. I didn’t resubscribe but I still read WH online.


This week’s issue, which I recently finished reading

Ahhh, Time. This helps keep me in the loop with what’s going on in the world. I get to learn a lot about politics, news, designs. Time makes me feel connected to the world and to the people who live in this world. (Also, it’s nice that it makes me look smart while I’m commuting to work.) Of course, Time is also wonderful to read online.

I don’t think I forgot any. I have read a bunch of magazines in waiting rooms and the like, but these are the ones that I have been reading regularly.

[ EDIT ] I almost forgot!

Scientific American

Nerd cred? Yes. This is definitely a great read if you are a fan of science, as the articles are often written by the scientists who are conducting the research. Super informative and really great for keeping up with a lot of disciplines of science. I got a free subscription with an MCAT prep course I took and I like reading it when I see it.

Do you subscribe to any magazines? Have you ever?
Do you prefer reading physical magazines or do you follow your favorites online?