2017: a retrospective

Be not misled; my 2017 only looked like this for 24 hours.

I saw a lot of things this past year. A terrible man took over; the masses rose up. I survived a hurricane and a rare snow day. I leaned more deeply into my community and my loved one. I failed in some of my goals, but accomplished things I didn’t even know were within reach. I traveled across the state, country, and world, several times over. I was broken down and built up, and somehow found balance.

I’ve now been completing these annual surveys for a decade (!!) — so here is one for an utterly exhilarating and exhausting year.

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

The same two intentions, five years strong.

A. Learn to live moderately.

★★★☆ I’m doing much better in this regard. I initially wrote this with the intention of leveling out an intense diet and exercise regimen. I’m pretty (relatively?) reasonable now — I train three times a week, dabble in other forms of fitness, and avoid gluten and dairy. I’m also continually, incrementally learning to balance other aspects of life, including balancing time between work, friends, and love.

B. Figure out my life’s work.

★★★☆ Getting ever closer. I made more deliberate strides towards interdisciplinary work, particularly in the public health arena.

And a new one for fun: Curse less.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Quite a few — I guess it’s that time in my life now (eek!). Two of my older cousins and a handful of my friends.

3. Did anyone close to you die?


4. What countries did you visit?

Thailand, part two.

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

Same as the two years prior: first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals. It didn’t happen for me in 2017, but I’m hopeful this is the time.

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

Honestly, I’m probably not going to remember specific dates. However, memorable events include: Hurricane Harvey. Spring break in Asheville. My first century bike ride. My first public health conference (including an award!).

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Winning a few recognitions, including a small research grant from my professional organization, a student award from an interdisciplinary field, and a travel grant from my university.

8. What was your biggest failure?

See #5 above: not publishing.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a cold around Thanksgiving time. Surprisingly, given my intense physical activities, I didn’t get any serious illness or injuries.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

A MacBook screen protector (it is insane how much my screen deteriorated from the keyboard cover pressing up on it). My Allbirds. As much as I hate to say it… my CrossFit membership.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My sister’s, for applying to PA school like a boss. My brother’s, for finishing up his occupational therapy program.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Other than President Voldemort? My advisor’s unique form of “motivation” got to me, for very short-lived moments in time.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Groceries. Boba. Fitness things.

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

Going to Thailand.

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

According to Spotify:

Grimes & Janelle Monae – Venus Fly

Calvin Harris & Kehlani – Faking It

Banks – Crowded Places

Kanye West – Famous

Julia Michaels – Issues

Anything by dvsn, Majid Jordan, and (as loathe as I am to admit) Taylor Swift

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

i. happier or sadder? A bit sadder, thanks to peak grad school stress
ii. thinner or fatter? Perhaps a shade thinner. I think my body is normalizing from a rollercoaster of weight loss/gain over the past four years.
iii. richer or poorer? The same.

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

Three years strong: talking to my mom.

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

2016 and 2015 Jules still hit it on the head:

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.

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?

Waking up in NYC after Christmas Eve with KT, and flying six hours cross-country to make it home, just in time for my family’s party.

20. Did you fall in love?

Already there — although I did get pretty newly enamored with my cousin’s baby Sam.

21. What was your favorite TV program?

Always, always Bachelor in Paradise (and other, lesser Bachelor franchise shows) and SNL (which we’ve started watching weekly). Veep and Big Mouth were also pretty good.

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

I dislike some people, but I would’t say I “hate” them. I did realize this year that my outward expressions of displeasure as basically undetectable, since I am so nice at baseline. 

23. What was the best book you read?

By far, The Sympathizer. Its beautiful, tragic, cutting characterization of the refugee diaspora left me s h o o k . I am so grateful to KT for putting it on my radar — and happy that we got to see Viet Thanh Nguyen speak at Rice.

Shout-out to White Teeth and When the Spirit Catches You (which has been in progress since the fall semester began and might actually get finished before the semester starts… or not…)

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?


25. What did you want and get?

A profession of love.

26. What did you want and not get?

*grunting* must… not… mention… publications…

Probably a dog.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Lady Bird and Moonlight. Coco was nice to watch as a holiday tradition with K’s family, but didn’t live up to the hype; Inside Out was much better. We also watched a ton of documentaries, including Tickled, The Red Pill, and Open Secret.

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

I had dinner, drinks, and dancing at Sterling House. KT and I then went away for a lovely weekend in a zen cabin in Asheville.

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

KT going on my Thailand trip with me?

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

The same as all the past years: “grandmotherly, comfortable, quirky.” This year’s staples include the shapeless dress (muumuu) and Vans tennis shoes (soon to be ousted by Allbirds loafers).

Unfortunately, I had to throw away my beloved rayon joggers. I kept on denying that they were see-through until someone, who will not be named, snapped a photo of my underwear visibly showing underneath my pants. So.

31. What kept you sane?

Working out. Despite not being a “typical Crossfit personality,” I’ve really enjoyed its variety, effectiveness, and ass-kicking qualities. The endorphins are real.

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

Since resuming weekly SNL-watching, Colin Jost has really been doin’ it for me (although I don’t love his current choice in partner, ScarJo. I mean, I wouldn’t love him dating anyone other than me, tho…)

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

So many things, but gender equality really got to me this year. Women’s March. The #metoo movement.

34. Who did you miss?

It was also particularly heart-filling and heartbreaking reuniting with my friends in Thailand. I publicly ugly-cried when I realized I wouldn’t see them again in a long, long time.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

All my Chiang Mai and Phuket babes!

36. Was this year a good year for you?

It was okay.

37. What was your favorite moment of the year?

In KT’s words, this is going to be “mad corny” – but my favorite moments were early morning cuddles with my boo.

I also really loved my first century bike ride, once it was over. I’d signed up for a 175-mile ride on a whim, wanting to put my beautiful road bike to use. However, Hurricane Harvey put a huge, wet wrench in my training schedule. Trying to build endurance on a compressed schedule was, in a word, miserable. I was so incredibly proud when I was able to power through eight hours of biking, day of.

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

Hmm… probably crying in the middle of my DisneyWorld vacation, having a casual crisis about how men could make me feel so very powerless, in front of my best friends and one of their moms.

39. Where were you when the year began?

Chez A’s in Arcadia, having lots of wine and playing Taboo and looking at glowsticks in the dark.

40. Who were you with?

Some old friends, and some new!

41. Where will you be when the year ends?

T & V’s wedding in Irvine.

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

So many perfect friends, and my sweet KT once again.

43. Did you break up with anyone?

Nope, though I’ll be darned if we didn’t try to drive each other away on a near-daily basis. 😉

44. Did you make any new friends?


45. Who are your favorite new friends?

I’m pretty grateful for the new first years in my program!

46. What was your favorite month?

March. Traveling to NC and DC was lovely.

47. How many different states did you travel to?

Not including my adoptive home state:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Atlanta, GA
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Orlando, FL
  5. Denver, CO
  6. Raleigh/Asheville/Durhan, NC
  7. Washington, DC
  8. OC/LA/SF, CA

48. Did you lose anybody close to you?


49. How many concerts did you see?

  1. The XX
  2. Banks

50. Did you have a favorite concert?

Probably Banks. She was out of this world.

51. Did you drink a lot of alcohol?

Probably a normal amount. It dropped off quite a bit the further we went in the year.

52. Did you do a lot of drugs?


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

I didn’t stand up to my roommate when she was behaving very badly. I still feel quite guilty for trying to be so diplomatic, when I really wish I’d been more honest.

54. What was the worst lie someone told you?

That I wasn’t working hard enough.

55. Did you treat somebody badly?

I hope not. I probably did, by virtue of not defending the powerless.

56. Did somebody treat you badly?

My former roommate.

57. What was your proudest moment?

Winning a small grant from my professional organization.

Winning a student award from the professional organization with which I hope to align.

58. What was your most embarrassing moment?

Trying to make a joke during a lab dinner and hearing absolute silence.

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

I’d have applied to some of the international travel and research grants I’ve been constantly eyeing.

60. What are your plans for the new year?

  1. P U B L I S H !
  2. Move into a roommates-less space.
  3. Vacation internationally, preferably with my bebe.

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