2016: a retrospective

I closed out 2016 in much the same way I started it: in a state of utter confusion. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. It’s seen some incredible, exhilarating highs and obscene, demoralizing lows.

Without further ado: my annual survey.

1. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

The same two intentions, four years strong.

A. Learn to live moderately.

★★☆☆ I’m doing a bit better, even if I still feel like I need to restore and maintain balance. My relationship with food and exercise has definitely leveled out from its previous extremes. I’m also still figuring out how to create the space (emotional and physical) I need for myself.

B. Figure out my life’s work.

★★★☆ Getting closer! As it turns out, enrolling in graduate school doesn’t solve the mystery of my purpose in life — but it helps get me nearer to the mark. I’m now nearly at the middle point of my graduate training and I’m gaining more clarity in terms of what I want to study and do.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?


3. Did anyone close to you die?


4. What countries did you visit?

None. 😥

5. What would you like to have in this coming year that you lacked in the last one?

Same as the year prior (that is, publications), but with more specificity: first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.

6. What date(s) will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 4th: romance.

November 8th: the day the U.S. went to shit.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Winning a big, fancy grant that will fully fund three years of graduate school.

8. What was your biggest failure?

Not investing as much time into my research?

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?


10. What was the best thing you bought?

My bikes. Plane tickets.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

K’s, for both leaving and staying.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

He-who-must-not-be-named (our president-elect’s).

13. Where did most of your money go?

Kombucha and Quest bars. Fitness (climbing gear and passes, a Bar Method trial, yoga).

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Winning the NSF.

Traveling, as always.

15. What songs will always remind you of the year?

According to Spotify:

Kenzie May – Skeleton Key

Neiked – Sexual

Emile Haynie & Rufus Wainwright – Little Ballerina

Drake – One Dance

Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

Tyga & Nicki Minaj –  Muthafucka up

Moxie Raia – Buffalo Bill

Black Coast & M. Maggie – Trndsttr, Lucian Remix

Albums: Wet’s “All the Ways,” Rihanna’s “ANTI,” and Frank Ocean’s “Blonde”

16. Compared to this time last year, are you…

i. happier or sadder? Sadder? The honeymoon phase is wearing off.
ii. thinner or fatter? About the same, I think.
iii. richer or poorer? Slightly “richer” (if you can call it that).

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Two years strong: talking to my mom.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Overanalyzing situations and doubting myself and others. I’ve found that this year has involved too much rumination and too little action. I’d like to be able to hold a thought in my head for only the time it needs to settle, express or resolve it, and move on.

I would also like to include this little blurb from last year, because it still rings true:

Focusing on others. I’ve always known that I am an other-oriented person… I’m making a concerted effort to be a little more selfish — to ask how I’m feeling about things first. It feels very wrong and unnatural for me to not immediately take the temperature of the people around me, but I think it’s important for me to learn how to set up safe boundaries for all my relationships.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

First, on a plane, flying nine hours, from New York to Chicago to Santa Ana.

Then, with my family.

20. Did you fall in love?

You could say that. 😘

21. What was your favorite TV program?

Bachelor in Paradise remains the ideal television program (shout out to other Bachelor franchise shows), especially now that I’ve successfully indoctrinated my girlfriends. Also spent a lot of time with Mozart in the Jungle and House of Cards.

Honorable mention to the video games Little Big Planet 3 (the newest version!) and Dragon Quest Builders.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

“Hate” is a strong word… but I have definitely lost a bit of chill in 2016. I find myself easier to anger. It’s hard to stay even-tempered when you and yours suffer through microaggressions (and straight-up aggression).

23. What was the best book you read?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, hands down. I’ve been reading a lot more this year (amazing, given my grad school schedule).

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?


25. What did you want and get?

An $85 gift card for taste-testing ice cream.

26. What did you want and not get?

Umm… I’m not sure. A Fujifilm instant camera during my family’s White Elephant gift exchange.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Maybe Zootopia or Moonlight. (Definitely not Moana or Sing, which we went out of our way to watch in theaters and let us down, despite [or maybe because of] the hype.)

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old?

I turned 27. I invited all my friends to Axelrad for pizza and beer. It was so very sweet.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Assurance that I am doing the write thing in all areas of my life. Is that so much to ask???

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in the year?

The same as all the past years: “grandmotherly, comfortable, quirky.” Def more dresses now (that Southern weather, y’all!)… and leggings. I probably have 7 pairs of all-black, full-length yoga pants now.

31. What kept you sane?

Yoga. Biking. Also see last year:

Writing. Therapy sessions over boba with my friends.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

It appears I do not change at all between years. Last year I said Justin Trudeau, and I think the same is still true. I might also add Nathan Adrian after the Summer Olympics. HOLLA.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Let’s not even talk about it.

34. Who did you miss?

Sweet B and lovely V.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

My collaborators?

36. Was this year a good year for you?

It was medium.

37. What was your favorite moment of the year?

The day I found out I won the NSF scholarship. I’ve never felt such intense joy — I was trembling, tearing up, checking my email in bed that morning in March. The best part was that it was purely my moment. I didn’t have to worry about any costs or sacrifices to be made, any “next steps,” because there were no such strings attached. It was just for me.

38. What was your least favorite moment of the year?

Perhaps election night.

39. Where were you when the year began?

In LA, dancing to Justin Bieber music videos, eating leftover pizza, and trying our best to stay awake until the ball dropped.

40. Who were you with?

My Bay Area baes.

41. Where will you be when the year ends?

In LA, yet again.

42. Who will you be with when the year ends?

My Bay Area baes (though this time, few of us can really claim Bay Area belonging), yet again.

43. Did you break up with anyone?


44. Did you make any new friends?


45. Who are your favorite new friends?

The people lovingly referred to as “Idiots.”

46. What was your favorite month?

April, the month we went to Colorado.

47. How many different states did you travel to?

Seven: California, Colorado, Indianapolis, Louisiana, DC, Illinois, New York.

48. Did you lose anybody close to you?

No one I knew or loved died.

49. How many concerts did you see?

Just two: Explosions in the Sky and BEYONCE. Also of note: we also went to Fistful of Soul for dancing to live music, more than a couple of times.

50. Did you have a favorite concert?

Queen B changed my fucking life.

51. Did you drink a lot of alcohol?

No more than I did last year.

52. Did you do a lot of drugs?


53. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

I got super emotional. I also took home a hat that I found lying around at the airport.

54. What was the worst lie someone told you?

Umm… I’m not sure?

55. Did you treat somebody badly?

I hope not. Truthfully, I’ve been a bit difficult at times — but I always try to be loving and generous when possible.

56. Did somebody treat you badly?

Someone broke into my home and snuck around while I was sleeping in my bedroom… so there’s that.

57. What was your proudest moment?

Winning the NSF.

58. What was your most embarrassing moment?

Getting hit in the face with a kickball.

59. If you could go back in time to any moment and change something, what would it be?

I’d probably have spent more time by myself at the beginning of the year.

60. What are your plans for the new year?

Figure out what I want out of life, personally and professionally. (Of the two, I think greater emphasis should be placed on my personal life. I’m on a pretty steady track career-wise, even if I agonize over decisions constantly. It’s a process…)

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