Looking Back on 2018

Happy 2019 everyone!

Erm… it’s been an awful long time since my last blog post, and an awful lot has happened since then. To be honest, I kept thinking about explaining my absence and settling back into the regular posting schedule, but every time I did, I felt super anxious about both the explanation and the regular posting. It was a lot easier to not think about the blog.

But I’ve missed blogging a lot, and I could not let myself not post my annual year-in-review posts, which are the highlight of my blogging year every year. I’ve been reflecting on my calendar years basically since I started blogging in 2001, and I wasn’t going to let my rough year ruin my streak!

So let’s just start fresh and run through a list of what I did this year.
(Note: Photos, videos, and reference links will be added at a later date, so stay tuned to social media to see when this post will be ~complete~ in that respect. A lot of polishing is needed here, but I will be doing it.)Read More »

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Infinity Rooms, Disco Fashion, & An Assassination| week in review

Happy Revenge of the Fifth and Cinco de Mayo for the people of Puebla. Please be sure to observe respectfully and enjoy the magic of Star Wars on this lovely Friday.

This week has been one of my more eventful weeks, especially as I’ve been doing a lot of DC things and exploring parts of my base city that I haven’t in the past. (I arbitrarily posted on Instagram every day in April, and most of those were San Francisco latergrams, so many people reached out to me thinking I had moved to SF. Nope! I just hadn’t gone out very much in April. ūüėÖ)

INFINITE KUSAMA // I cannot believe that I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn a second time, and this time it was through my own tickets! I’ve been trying to get tickets literally every single Monday since the ticketing system opened up, but every week ended with disappointment. BUT I finally was able to get them AND they were for an early morning slot, so I brought Ben and my friend Vivian to see Kusama for the last time on Monday, as her exhibit will be leaving DC and headed to the next destination for her tour. I’ll try to put together a dedicated post with photos and a video if possible, but if you’re able to catch Infinite Kusama when it comes to your city, I highly highly recommend it. It’s a bit stressful with the lines and the short time limits in each room, but it is really accessible art and I find a lot of peace in the patterns that helped calm the artist’s mind.

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“All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” – Yayoi Kusama, 2016

TIM GUNN & DISCO FASHION // On Tuesday, the Library of Congress hosted Tim Gunn to talk about the fashion of disco as part of their month-long celebration of disco fashion, history, music, and culture. I got there early because my ticket had some nonsense about “ticket does not guarantee admission, we recommend arriving 30-45 minutes before doors open” but almost bailed because I was not in the mood for that nonsense, ya know? I don’t even watch Project Runway! I was thinking this and singing a little bit under my breath (I think it was “Till There Was You”, if you were curious) and it was an absolutely perfect day, weather-wise. The Library of Congress is this gorgeous building, and I was glad to see there was no line winding outside yet, so I started hurrying towards the entrance. As I walked up the steps, I noticed a few meters in front of me were a man and a woman. As I got closer and closer, with my hustlin’ pace, I realized:

I was walking about 10 feet behind Tim Gunn.
To go to see Tim Gunn speak at an event.

No one paid me much mind? They didn’t ask me to back up, and I feel like if I wanted to, I might have even been able to just walk through the staff-only door that he and his handlers went through. There was a funny incident at the security check, where the security guard asked for a handshake from Tim Gunn because he and his wife were fans… but I had my arms out waiting for him to wave the metal detector wand over me… and it was a wee bit awkward. (Also awkward: me trying not to bother Mr. Gunn because celebrities are people too, so instead of asking for a photo or anything I just said “thaaaank you…. and hiiiiiiiii~” when he held the door open for me.)

He was SUPER hilarious. While he only briefly talked about disco and how the fashion was a very logical progression from the 60s and how important disco was for people in terms of finding acceptance no matter what, I learned a lot about Tim Gunn like:

  • He comes from a background in academia, and didn’t even study fashion in school.
  • He hates leggings as pants.
  • His feelings towards the Kardashians? Disdain.
  • Ditto for the current White House administration.
  • He and Anna Wintour are arch-nemeses and he is not ever invited to the Met Gala because he once told the New York Post that the most outrageous thing he ever saw at a fashion show was Anna Wintour being carried down 5 flights of stairs. To be clear, he wasn’t trying to imply that she couldn’t work a Manolo and understood that this was the quickest way for her to get to the next show without waiting for the elevator, as no one in 6-inch Manolos can beat security guards down 5 flights of stairs.
  • He once met Vivian Vance at the FBI headquarters when J. Edgar Hoover was the director. Later, when it came out that Hoover was a cross-dresser, he realized that he never met Vivian Vance…
  • He adores Heidi Klum. But not his other Project Runway judges.

He was so well-spoken and charming and funny and thoughtful and kind. I really have a greater respect for how honest and genuine Tim Gunn is and will keep an eye out for his future endeavors for sure! In the meantime, disco on.

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Also I was OBSESSED with that white skirt in the background. I spent half the interview staring at it.

HISTORY ON FOOT – LINCOLN ASSASSINATION WALKING TOUR // I was invited by my Instagram friend Albert to an instameet at the Ford’s Theatre. It’s a walking tour that takes you through downtown DC to several key locations that are settings for the conspiracy that was President Lincoln’s assassination. I cannot recommend this tour enough, as it’s led by a fantastic actor who does all these great voices for different people’s testimonies of the evening, and the walk itself is really lovely. I learned so much about Lincoln’s assassination and US history in general like:

  • The General Post Office building (now the Hotel Monaco) was the first all-marble building constructed in DC and housed the first public telegraph office.
  • The term “lobbyist” was coined in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, from which you can see the White House, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
  • While Mary Surratt was the first woman to be executed by the federal government for delivering a package for John Wilkes Booth (the man who shot Lincoln), her son, John Surratt, who was one of the lead conspirators, escaped trial and execution twice and died at the ripe old age of 72. Tsk tsk.
  • The Treasury Building’s basement is meant to survive an attack on the capital in the event of an emergency. It is where the president and other high-ranking government representatives would have been evacuated to.
  • Tad Lincoln found out about his father’s assassination a few blocks away, while attending a different show at a different theater, when someone burst into the theater in the middle of the show and shouted that the president had been shot.

There was so much to learn but I don’t want to spoil all the details of the assassination for you. If you have an interest in US history and especially if you’re interested in Lincoln’s assassination and the conspiracy surrounding it, book this tour. (It’s a little over 1.5 miles, 2 hours, at $17.)

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Adjacent to Ford’s Theatre is Star Saloon, where John Wilkes Booth stopped for a drink right before shooting President Lincoln

That was my week! I’m wearing my Star Wars shirt today and listening to a lot of John Williams at work. Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!

What do you have coming up this weekend?
What are some DC things that I should do next?
I really felt a deep love for the District this week because of the beautiful weather and the amazing fun events I got to do here that I can only do here.
Do you take advantage of the unique fun your town/city offers? (Tell me how if you do!)

Looking Back on 2016

2016 was a good year for me, a year for replenishment. With my new job in my new career, I was able to afford – mentally and financially – many opportunities this year that I wasn’t able to in previous years. I strengthened friendships that mean a lot to to me and worked hard to let go of the ones that needed to mean less. Taking cues from the successes of past years, I made sure to take action on goals I wanted to see through.

I said yes more and no less. While I’m still finding a good balance and learning what I’m really saying yes and no to, my life is fuller as a result.

Buckle up, because here’s my annual recap of things I did, 2016 edition:

  • Completed my web development course
    • Spoke at our graduation
  • Saw my brother off on his semester abroad in Milan (!!!)
  • Sipped my way through the DC Whiskey Walk
  • Got my first interviews and job in software development
  • Learned to drive manual/stick shift (sorta)
  • Saw Tom Hiddleston and Marc Abraham at the DC screening of I Saw the Light
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  • Partied in Las Vegas as an adult without my family for the first time
  • Visited Los Angeles for the first time for Don and Megan’s wedding
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    • Stayed in an AirBnB for the first time
    • Went to Disneyland for the first time
    • Met the wonderful Briana and Adam in person (congrats again!)
    • Met some Xanga friends for the first and second time
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    • Sang karaoke in Koreatown
    • Ate In-n-Out and Roscoe’s and many other¬†LA foods
    • Saw my friend Ran after¬†something like 15 years?
  • Watched¬†Game of Thrones as it aired (versus binge-watching on HBO Go over the summer)
  • Photographed a hot air balloon festival
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  • Saw Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band perform
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  • Had my first boutique bra fitting experience
    • And finally got bras that fit my not-so-average body
  • Tried heated yoga (I think it was a few degrees cooler than official “hot” yoga)
  • Thwarted identity theft
  • Wound up with a scary-looking but mild case of subconjunctival hemmorhage (aka a burst blood vessel on my eye – I would not recommend looking it up, it’s scary to see blood on anyone’s eye)
  • Attended an IGDC Instameet and made some new Instagram friends
  • Got my very own mentee in the DC tech community
  • Saw my old summer camp friend Yufeng get married in Roanoke
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  • Visited my brother during his NYC internship
  • Saw Ingrid Michaelson live – for free
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  • Attended the 1st DC Capital Solstice black-tie gala
    • Met Guy Lambert, from WPGC 95.5
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  • Moved my family out of the house we’ve called home for almost exactly 10 years
  • Attended ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum to Save Jack!
  • Got stuck in an elevator for the first time
  • Took action to stop teeth from destroying themselves while I sleep
  • Watched The Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center
  • Restarted ballet classes
  • Jumped for joy at my first trampoline park visit
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  • Went to a Washington Nationals game with my company (it’s a popular company outing, as evidenced even by my startup last year)
  • Kayaked for the first time and had a blast
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  • Visited Christine in San Francisco (my first trip back since 2003!)
  • Saw Kurios by Cirque du Soleil
  • Colored my hair to celebrate autumn
  • Saw Trevor Noah perform live at the Kennedy Center
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  • Visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival for the first time
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  • Became a Friend of the National Zoo (FONZ), happy to support organizations I love
  • Pulled off my second Hogwarts Spirit Week with a coworker
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  • Went to the Kennedy Center by myself for the first time
  • Attended Night of the Living Zoo as a newly minted FONZ
    • Wearing the Sailor Mars costume costume
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  • Rode the metro and showed up to work in an Espeon onesie on Halloween
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  • Celebrated my 5 year anniversary with Ben early with a trip to the Shenandoah Valley
  • Visited Cincinatti for the first time
    • For RubyConf, my first tech conference!
    • Which I attended as a RubyConf Scholar
    • Gave a lightning talk in front of hundreds of people and the author of the Ruby programming language
    • Walked across a bridge at sunrise from Ohio to Kentucky
    • Went off on a solo photo walk to explore downtown Cincy
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  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with Ben for the first time since we started dating
    • Brought my brother along to Ben’s parents’ house where his family friends were all very excited to meet me
  • Shopped on Black Friday for gifts to bring to China from 1AM to 4:30AM and then from 7AM to noon. And then more shopping in the afternoon.
  • Got my first salon manicure
  • Attended the Obamas’ last National Tree Lighting
    • Where I got to see performers like Kelly Clarkson and Chance the Rapper live
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  • Found out that my long-standing belly problems can be attributed to something very treatable!
    • Note: Go see your doctor about little things that may be interfering with your quality of life. It may not seem serious now, but if I left my condition unchecked, it could have made me prone to ulcers and gastrointestinal cancer, so I’m glad I am being treated now.
  • Threw a star-themed birthday party that somehow came together to look wonderful
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  • Attended my company’s winter event and had a great time with my coworkers
  • Got a flat tire and was reminded that knowing how to change a tire is pretty useless when you don’t have the right tools to do it!
    • Note: You should probably learn to change a tire. And make sure you car has the right tools to do it. Go out this weekend and change your car’s tire to practice. And check your tire pressure while you’re out there.
  • Attended my first holiday party for Ben’s company
  • Saw Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana perform holiday hits at the Kennedy Center
  • Ran a 60-person white elephant exchange
  • Danced the morning away at a 7AM dance party to ring in 25
  • Saw the Northern Lights! (from a plane)
  • Went to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in China with my family for the first time (my second winter China trip)

This has been a very big year for me. Having a great new job has been a big part of it, as it has allowed me to be able to afford to say yes to many opportunities. (Literally. Having a job that pays me a fair salary for the area is huge. Having that job be a great work environment is even better.)

I indulged my vanity a lot this year, but I think it has a little bit to do with me recognizing that I’m becoming the person I want to be, inside and out. I am taking better care of myself and I am acknowledging that self-care is, in fact, doing good for me! (But I am going to try to keep the vanity in check, because one of my biggest personality trait fears is being too vain.)

2016 was kind of a dumpster fire of a year for the world, but reflecting on my personal achievements and milestones and experiences, it was a good year.

I hope that 2017 will be good as well, and that I can channel some of that goodness and put it back out into the world, which needs it more than I do right now.

Happy 2017! What are some of your highlights from last year?
Are there things you’re already looking forward to this upcoming year?

Spoopy Catch-Up

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through October already?

It seems like just yesterday that I was sweating through the end of September and wondering when it would feel like fall. I could see my breath when I went out this morning, and I’ve started contemplating posting a cover of “Sweater Weather” up (don’t worry, I won’t), so it really is that time of year already!

Spoopy time!

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The spoopy season is upon us, and it kicks off 3 months of festive fun, but I feel like I’ve barely had the chance to settle into October. Remember how I was supposed to “cool down for fall“? I’m not great at it, but I am getting better!

So let’s do a quick catch up of what I’ve been doing instead of taking it easy since I resolved to do just that…

DEVFESTDC // Maybe I wrote that post because I was staring down the barrel at a packed itinerary, because that Saturday I attended Day 2 of DevfestDC, a Google Developer Group mini-conference. I found out that my friend Yufeng (still waiting on your wedding photos, friend!) was one of the speakers, and with the venue so close to home, I had to go! It was nice to learn about machine learning and Google’s software (in advance of their big hardware announcement shortly after). It was especially nice to get to spend time with Yufeng, who I haven’t seen since his wedding. And seeing him twice in one year is like a new record!

SEEING RED // I dyed my hair!

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It’s a lot more subtle than I was going for, but I am still happy to have red in my hair for autumn! And to be honest, maybe it’s safer for work that my hair isn’t as vibrant of a red as I was going for?

TWO YELPER PARTIES // I worked at not one but two Yelper parties, one week apart! You know I’m a sucker for a good themed party, so for the famous rivalry theme, I quickly donned an Ursula getup and convinced Ben to do an Eric Disneybound.

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And at the DC Halloween bash, I gave Little Red a little test drive. (You’ll be seeing her again later!)

(And of course, I ate a lot of great food.)

HOMECOMING // I went back to my alma mater for yet another rainy homecoming. It feels very different now, when I go back to campus. I feel super out of touch with the campus community as the neighborhood changes.¬† The student involvement suite – where I used to spend hours of my week running different clubs and meetings – had been completely redone and I was invited to the ribbon-cutting. It is so new and snazzy now, and I am really excited for the student orgs who are going to get to use that space. The homecoming leadership reception – which I’ve attended for the past 4 years – was held in a different building than usual because the old building… is not there anymore. They are redoing it. I remember feeling super tethered to my alma mater as my first job after graduating was research on campus, but I definitely do not feel that anymore.

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I’ll be honest: part of the reason I come back for homecoming is the delicious food they feed me.

TREVOR NOAH // I got to see Trevor Noah, who currently hosts The Daily Show, perform standup at the Kennedy Center while he promotes his upcoming book, Born Illegal. He was really funny, and I didn’t know that he did so many great impressions and accents! I appreciated his commitment to his one-man skits, which less-bold comics would not sustain the way he did. And then, because my friend Krystal is going to marry him and got the chance to get a photo with him… and bring some friends… I got to meet him!

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I like to think he’s laughing because when Annie and Krystal walked up, he exclaimed “Oh, you guys are tiny, I love that!” and then I approached him and said, “I see how it is, no love for a tall girl?” He then performed a 10:30 show about 5 minutes after this photo.

SETH MEYERS //¬† Late Night with Seth Meyers is filming in DC this week, and I was able to attend Tuesday’s taping! It was very stressful because even though I left work quite early, Metro was hell-bent on making me late. When I escaped from underground and decided to bike over instead, the first three Capital Bikeshare hubs I got to were full! No where to park my bike! This was one of the rare times I ran in the streets and I immediately stopped when I saw the line wrapping around the block. My friends already had their wristbands to sit in the orchestra section, and I was sure I wasn’t going to make it because there were hundreds of people in line in front of me. But I made it!!! Here’s the episode I watched them film, with guests Lena Dunham and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll as their characters from their Broadway show, Oh, Hello. It was fun to get to see them film live, and I liked seeing Seth Meyers again. (I saw him perform standup in college, shortly before he hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2011.)

CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE // I just saw this last night: it’s the NSO Pops performing Cirque de la Symphonie:¬† classic Halloween instrumentals to accompany some incredible circus acts. I’m talking aerial artists, strongmen, a juggling clown, a contortionist. There was a woman doing these amazing fast changes! It was awesome, and the set list included a lot of my favorite orchestral Halloween pieces. To top it all off, the weather is beautiful, so we walked to and fro the Kennedy Center and thoroughly enjoyed the stroll.

#FALLINTODISNEYSTYLE // I’ve been occasionally participating in Disney Style’s fall¬† Instagram challenge, and I have been getting to know a lot of really cool Disney Instagrammers through it!

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I’m not as hardcore as most of the community is, but it’s still a really fun community to get to know.

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Otherwise very unaccustomed to posting photos of my socks or my desk!

Believe it or not, this is actually a slightly slowed-down few weeks for me. I have been very consciously giving myself days at home to cook dinner, clean, and prepare for future activities. (Halloween is rapidly approaching and then the holiday season will be upon us before we know it!)

What have you been up to lately as fall kicks into full gear?
What are your favorite politically-minded comedy shows?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV anymore, and I definitely don’t stay up late to watch them, so I actually don’t watch much of The Daily Show or Late Night with Seth Meyers.

P.S. Are you in the spoopy mood yet? Get in it with Required Halloween Viewing and laughing at my resolution to Cool Down for Fall.
P.P.S. I quickly set up a Facebook page if that’s your preferred way to read blogs!

Looking Back on 2015

I started this post on January 1, 2015, knowing how difficult it was to put together my 2014 post, but I have not been as good about updating it with significant events in the 364 days that followed, unfortunately. (So much for the foresight to avoid my current struggle.) Despite that, I can still tell you a lot of really big things that happened in 2015 because it was a significantly eventful year for me.

In the interest of time, here are some things I did in 2015 (without accompanying photos) (for now):

  • Took the GMAT after 15 days’ notice
  • Got into graduate school
    • Withdrew my enrollment from graduate school so that I could say yes to a different opportunity
  • Reunited with my friend Tammy after having not seen her for over 10 years
    • And again the day after Christmas! Meaning I saw her 2 times in 2015, which is 2 times more than the past 10 years combined!
  • Survived Valentine’s Day
    • Cooked a surf ‘n’ turf meal of steak & crabcakes from scratch
    • Attended a really kick-butt Valentine’s Day party
    • Hit a bus (at ~3 mph)
    • Saw a tree fall
  • Watched 50 Shades: The Musical Parody¬†at the Warner Theater
  • Attended my first ever Instameet, courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Watched¬†Anything Goes¬†at the Warner Theater
  • Saw Chelsea Clinton at the American Heart Association ball
  • Met and had my copy of¬†The Buried Giant¬†signed by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Listened to the NSO Pops and Lea Salonga perform live at the Kennedy Center
  • Saw my friends Megan and Don get engaged
  • Proved that blog friends are real friends when Christine and Karen visited
  • Went to Florida for my first proper spring break, stopping by:
  • Started a new job with an exciting new DC startup
    • Left that job
  • Watched¬†Once¬†at the Kennedy Center
  • Moved my stuff to Ben’s place
  • Ran my first Color Run (belated blog post to come shortly)
  • Resumed eating chips!
  • Attended Diner en Blanc DC
  • Saw Bo Burnham at the Lincoln Theater
  • Saw Stromae at Echostage
  • Started a full-time web development boot camp
  • Got food poisoning for the first time

I’m sure there are more significant events that happened in 2015 that I just never got around to writing down here. It’ll be March and I’ll suddenly jerk away with the realization that I actually did something super wicked awesome and need to put it on this recap before I forget it forever!!

As far as reflections on 2015… I’m glad that I was able to attend so many live performances! These experiences can get expensive but the Kennedy Center has made them so much more affordable than I previously thought possible. Definitely take advantage if you are 18-30 and/or active military! I really did try to say “yes” to more experiences this year, given how well that went for me in 2013 and how I felt the effects of not doing so in 2014. It definitely doesn’t hurt, although being a student and paying tuition did put a damper on saying yes to as many of these experiences.

It quieted down towards the end of the year when I started my full-time boot camp. But I’m really excited for what 2016 will hold because I am entering a new field and there are just so many new opportunities opening up for me. I just have to be brave enough to go for them.

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Past annual recaps: 2014 | 2013

How was your 2015? Any big milestones?