Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Review & 2019 Goals

This was a difficult and unsettling year inside my head. I don't know how to articulate it, but I know that there are some things holding me back from being free and whole, as if there are some internal error messages that just don't x out when I hit "remind me later" anymore. My biggest goal for 2019 is to work through that to the best of my ability. 

It's harder to write my way through whatever is plaguing me. I spend a lot of time making more drafts than I used to, and it ends up making less sense. 2018 was characterized by losing my sense of security in several ways, with the additional wounds of realizing that I was finding security in those things subconsciously. 
My acceptance of some fundamental characteristics of church that are not Biblical. 
My belief that racial and social reconciliation was just a matter of me caring. 
My assumption that all the members of my family would live in close proximity forever.
I was less certain that finishing 10 years of school would lead to a dream job, but it has still been discouraging and disorienting to realize I am not qualified to do much of anything that I had envisioned. 

I'm not going into 2019 feeling hopeful, I'm going in feeling lost. I think that's okay to be and feel, but I don't particularly care for it.  Never the less, there were some wonderful things that happened this year. I'll start with the highs, then review the lows, then assess last year's goals and set some new ones. Interspersed with photos from the year. 

My most "liked" pictures on Instagram this year, L to R, Row 1: candid(ish) from Genna's wedding, Sonny and Cher halloween costumes, candy sushi. Row 2: Chinese New Year table setting, Scandanavian Ribbon Cake at my vintage Christmas party, thrifted Gucci scarf. Row 3: 2018 tree, patterned family, Ishmael at Easter. 


Three wonderful weddings - I got to be in my dear friend Genna Cragoe (Andersen)'s wedding which featured the best dancing of any wedding I have ever been to and a taco truck which is probably the best wedding food I've had. It was proceeded by a bacholerette party at the family's beach house in Malibu which is officially one of my favorite spots on earth now and fills me with even more undying love for the magic of California. // We were touched to be invited to our brother-in-law's brother's wedding in Santa Cruz with the incredibly generous and friendly Sears' family. Alex and Emily Sear's wedding was the first open-bar wedding I'd been to and there were customized gift bags for our kids and it was at a golf course that happened to feature feral kittens, so it was really one for the books. // My dear cousin Mark married a fantastic woman, Nicole, and with the added bonus of seeing her FBI coworkers go crazy on the dance floor, I can't remember a wedding where I was so filled with contentment that two people found each other. Also I'm just really thrilled to have Nicole as a cousin now.

The summer time in general was wonderful. I'd made note of that right after the summer ended, but many of the details are hibernating now. I can't complain that the memory is bathed in a contented glow. The most bittersweet aspect of it was several days spent helping my sister Annelise and her husband pack up their home in Whittier, CA for their cross-country movie to Andrew's grad school program at Duke in Durham, North Carolina. It was quality time talking, going to the Korean spa, and eating all the best "last meals", but I miss their presence in California every day. At the end of the summer, the beginning of the school year marked the first time that both my boys were in school. 

I went to The Cellar Bar in Fullerton multiple times, where I sipped the best cocktails of my life to date, and made many good memories with my family.

My friend Lena (@vintagechicdk) was a vendor at the Pickwick Vintage Show and I got to help her! I was in clothes heaven and I loved meeting some amazing vintage dealers and gawking at the celebrities, designers, and show biz people that came to shop.

Some favorite outfits from 2018

My friend Michelle and I went on a lovely mini-vacation to Santa Monica to see the chef Yotam Ottolenghi speak. We were calling it our version of the screaming girls at Beatles' concerts. It was a very funny and cult-like experience to be in an auditorium of (mostly) women all holding the same book on their laps with reverence. 

In the fall, I started tutoring Chinese which has been surprisingly lovely as a small source of income and a chance to engage with something I love in a non-stressful setting (I've always been convinced that I don't like teaching, but now I'm less sure).

Thanksgiving was spent in San Diego, smashed into my brothers' beach-front apartment, making the best foods we could think of (the less bound to tradition I am, the more I enjoy holidays). I made a great effort to impose as little stress on myself as possible leading up to Christmas, beside the all-vintage Christmas party I threw on December 1st, something I've been plotting for several years! It was so much work (vintage everything - recipes, decor, clothing, etc.) but I also felt really satisfied seeing something through that had been stuck in my brain for a long time. I felt completely burnt out by December 24th, but blessedly, the following week was wonderfully relaxed and spent reading aloud to family members who were visiting and enjoying a small celebration of my graduation (the degree was conferred in mid-2018, even though I finished the program in 2017).

The Section Between Highs and Lows

In January 2018, I joined my local Interfaith group and attended related meetings and events throughout the year. I appreciated it for an opportunity to be a part of many gatherings and relationships that I'd never otherwise have an introduction to. It was also a reminder that community engagement and "working toward good" is almost always a harder, slower, slog than I imagine it will be. 

I'm always developing new hobbies and trying new things in categories I've always been interested in. I got into some elaborate floral arranging and I put extra time into styling photos as a form of artistic expression. I guess I'm just mentioning it because it's where I pushed myself and saw the most success in terms of creativity this year. 

Some of my floral arrangements in 2018

What I wrote about in 2018: 2017 recap, Amal Clooney, Our Lady of Sorrows (prose), a dark flora and fauna wedding concept, 10 years of life in America, Cultural Appropriate from the perspective of someone with multiple (or zero) cultures, my latest stage of parenthood, a heatwave (prose), Hope, Bundt cakes, relearning Chinese, starting to unpack deep sorrow, the color yellowEmilie Flöge and Wiener Werkstätte movement in Austria, and my disillusionment with political correctness

This may seem like a non-sequitur but of all the noise in the news and even all the beautiful visual noise on Instagram, this photo stuck out to me,  stuck with me, and captured my sense of the zeitgeist (and many others, according to the internet). It's a High and a Low. It's power and grace and bravery, it's also struggle and pain and despair. It's beauty in turmoil, and if that's not what mental stability and a life of walking in tension look like, I don't know what is. My favorite part about the photo (beside all the powerful imagery that I won't go into detail about here) were the words of the man in the photo when being interviewed later, 
"I don't go to protests to get pictures of me taken, but this has encouraged me to continue demonstrating," he said. "The flag I was carrying is the same one I always hold in all the other protests I've attended. My friends make fun of me, saying it is easier to throw rocks without holding a flag in the other hand, but I got used to it. If I get killed, I want to be wrapped in the same flag. We are demanding our right of return, and protesting for our dignity and the dignity of our future generation."


I'm just going to leave Trump and most of America completely out of this, that's basically a given. Internationally: Trump backing out of the Iran Nuclear Deal is something I was enraged and despondent over. He also began ending the US' involvement in Syria, and beside one caller on NPR, I might be the only person who thinks that was a good idea. President Xi of China's decision to extend his term through the end of his life was also distressing. 

The Borderline Bar shooting and the Woolsey fires (I'm confused about all the fire names, but those affecting Ventura, Thousand Oaks, and Malibu in late 2018) were merely more headlines to most people, just like most shootings and fires are merely unfortunately headlines to me. But these ones affected people I know and love, and the sense of fear and loss and pain is great. 

Somehow, the loss of Anthony Bourdain just kept hurting. I didn't know him, but he managed to be just the kind of light we all needed, and it was especially stinging to lose him when we needed his voice more than ever. I've learned and continue to learn so much from him. I grieve losing him, but I also grieve for his loss.  


Every year when I put together these looking back/looking forward posts, I review the previous year's post. In doing that recently, it helped me to notice that while I don't accomplish most of the big things I set out to do in a given year, when I look at my list of goals from 2-3 years ago, most of those things are accomplished now. Everything takes longer than I hope (always), but it does happen. And setting goals is important so that I know what I'm working toward and so that I can look back and be encouraged! The things that seem daunting today will be in the past 3 years from now.

2018 goal recap:
  • Read books. Made a good start on this!! Books that I read on the sister-post to this one, all about my favorite media of 2018. 
  • More communal cooking. I didn't cook in other people's homes as much as I'd envisioned, but I did start giving cooking lessons (sort of) in tandem with Chinese tutoring and I began sharing lots of kitchen escapades via Instagram, so I did a lot of communal cooking, just not in the way I'd imagined. 
  • Cook from cookbooks. Room to grow, but I did manage a few recipes from books. 
  • Dual Immersion. This simply didn't work out, despite my best efforts. My revised plan is to let the boys watch more TV, but only in Spanish, and hopefully do some intensive language courses in Mexico with them in the future. 
  • See a chiropractor. Also didn't happen, but the idea is more and more doable to me, and I'm going to rest, knowing this will be crossed out within the next few years (not only seeing a chiropractor, but hopefully the issues that I'm interested in seeing a chiropractor for). 
  • Roller derby! Too big of a time commitment after looking into it. However, I did get some nice rollerblades for my birthday and I hope that using them to exercise (they're so much harder on the sidewalk than in a rink!!!) can be a goal I grow into over time. I'm also determined to find a way to get the local rink to blast my custom-made rink playlist one of these days. ;) 
  • Mexico City??? Didn't happen, and that's okay. But there is a New York City trip planned for May 2019! 
Some of my favorite projects and photos from 2018. 

2019 goals. This list is full of huge things, with a lot of caveats. See point 1, haha: 
  • See a therapist. I'm exhausted and full of trepidation just thinking of everything behind and in front of that resolution, but I just need to take the first step. 
  • Language learning. Spanish. Arabic. Farsi. Chinese. At least make a plan, even a tiny bit of practice or movement toward speaking Chinese better and/or learning a new language. 
  • Think about home ownership. I go back and forth between excited and terrified. It feels like too much pressure to make the resolution "own a home", but as with the others, the goal is just to make a concrete step or two in that direction. 
  • Paint. Start a painting, or maybe take a class (probably not, but maybe). 
  • Get a job.  Maybe not a dream job, but a stepping-stone job. Something to at least start me in the right direction.  
  • Write out a business plan for my dream job. 
  • Find inspiration in hardcover imagery. I have so many amazing art books, I want to spend time looking at them instead of scrolling a screen, some of the time. 
That's it for the recap on my personal year. Jump to part 2 for recommendations based on my favorite books, shows/movies, podcasts, music of 2018. 

Here's to a rad 2019. 

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