2013, It’s the End of the Road

2013 was filled with some very heavy, and very personal triumphs and tragedies. As I do my annual look back at the year and review how I did against the goals I set for myself in January, I have to say that I feel both proud and disappointed.

1. Create an inviting office space. Right now, my office is a fancy way of describing a storage closet. I don’t ever want to work in that room. Instead, I’d rather work on the couch or the kitchen table, which isn’t ideal. One of the first things that I’ve got to do this year is setup the office so that I’ll actually want to work in it and use that room.

At last. I have an inviting office space that I actually want to work in. I spent a good chunk of early 2013 cleaning up and reorganizing this space. Looks pretty good, no?

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And then I made a pretty awesome linen pinboard, which saved me some money.(’cause when Pottery Barn is your inspiration, buying the original ain’t a cheap option) Plus, it was a nice little DIY project.

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Little did I know, the biggest challenge that I would face would be hanging it. In my first attempt, I used these sticky velco tape and they were useless. i bought them based on the promise that these sticky strips of velcro would hold very heavy picture frame. But it was a lie. These things weren’t able to hold up foam board wrapped in cork and linen. They held up for a couple of months or so, but… the board eventually fell…breaking my computer monitor.

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A few weeks later, I did what I should have done in the first place and nailed that sucker to the wall/wood beams. If it falls off again, I may need to use screws. But until then, I’m going to pin away.

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2. Create a cleaning system and station for the house. I saw this in her magazine, and was very jealous. Martha Stewart has a room dedicated to cleaning. It’s where she keeps all her supplies and has a dedicated space for fixing things around the house. While I don’t space to dedicate a room to this, I like the way she thinks and want to create a better system that will make it easier for me to keep my house clean.

Nope, still not even close to completely. As such, I’m moving this resolution to 2014, and will combine it with my goals to do a massive clean up/reorganization of the garage and laundry room.

3. Grow some of my own food. I tried my hand at indoor/balcony gardening. The basil plant I bought from Safeway survived several months, but it’s time to buy a new plant and start over. The olive tree that DL got form work is still alive but no signs of any olives yet. The other plant I have are either not flowering or dead. In 2013, I want to try my hand at raising a lemon tree, a cherry tomato plant and planting flowers in my balcony. I also want to get our backyard done so we can actually use it.

As of my mid-year check-in, this was accomplished.

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But that was the summer. Now that winter has come, the only plant in relatively good health are my olive tree and lemon trees. Everything else is dead.

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So to continue working on my yellow thumb, I’m going to add growing a new garden in our newly-done backyard to the list of 2014 goals.

3. Hang photos and art around the house. Our walls are pretty barren and part of the reason is because I have a hard time making decisions about the art we should hang around the house. But I have dreams of hanging some wall paper, more pictures and actual art. If we can get this done, then we’re getting some where.

Some day, some how, I will hang up some of the travel photography of Irene Suchocki. I love her travel wanderlust photos, especially her “Paris is a Feeling” photo. Moving this resolution to 2014.

4. Start Family Yearbook Series. DL and I are only 1.5 years into our marriage, so it’s still early to start this tradition without getting too behind. I want to start documenting our life together and the things we do each year in photo books. But first things first, I need to finish this wedding photo album.

Getting closer. I am proud to say that I finished and printed my wedding album….two years and three months later.

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And I’ve printed some images from our honeymoon for this nifty little photo album we got from our hotel.

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Now, it’s time to start the family year books for 2012 and 2013.

5. Plan my dream trip to Europe and go. Like my wedding, this trip of a lifetime is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and will take a lot of careful planning in order to do it right. The planing starts now and there’s no time to waste….like actually asking for the time off once my boss is back from his “vacation.”

While this wan’t the grand tour that I’ve always dreamed of (where we would hit up 20 countries in one shot trip), we pretty much spent a month in Europe in 2013, cumulatively. One week in London, one week in Paris, one week in Rome, and one week in Florence and Venice. #winning

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6. Integrate fitness into my daily life. Let’s face it. I’ve never been very excited to exercise and the current state of my health (getting over a cold) is not making me any more motivated. But really, I’m at an age where things can and will go downhill fast. I need to take care of my health before this becomes a super hurdle to overcome.

After the 10K run/walk that I did at the Moo-Light Run, I’ve been more than lazy about my fitness. It’s time to jumpstart that again in 2014.

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7. Watch a little less TV on the weekends, and go explore the SF Bay Area more. I like this list, 7×7′s 100 Things To Do In SF Before You Die, and I’d like to try to cross off more things off it. And really, with some of the free tickets that I got from my friend to the SF Zoo and Academy of Science, there really isn’t an excuse not to go.

While we are far from completing 7×7′s 100 Things To Do In SF Before You Die, DL and I made a much bigger effort to get out of the house and break our usual routine to explore the SF Bay Area. Some of the notable notables include: (1) SF Zoo, (2) Academy of Science, (3) Japanese Tea Garden,  and (4) Biking Across Golden Gate Bridge. And to start the year off right, we’re going to go ice skating in Union Square on New Year’s Day.20130203-183715.jpg

8. Enjoy the last year of my twenties. Cross off more items from my bucket list and try to complete 60% of Marc and Angel’s 70 Things To Do Before You Have Kids. Well, you’re only young once and while it’s not really my last change for a crazy experience and adventure, it sure feels like it.

At my mid-year check in, I crossed or sorta-crossed off 50 of these “crazy adventures” off this list of 70 things to do. Since I have yet to have kids, there’s still some time to pipe this list over to 2014.

9. Send out holiday cards at the start of the holiday season. If I can accomplish this in early December, then I know I’ve got my shit together in 2013 if I can pull this off. This year, I sent my cards out today (New Year’s Eve), which means my cards will arrive sometime in the new year. Ugh.

My holiday cards didn’t arrive before Christmas, but I did get 95% of them out in the mail before the holidays, which means most of our friends and family got them before New Year’s Eve. Yay me. And maybe next year, I’ll send them out earlier enough so that these cards arrive before Christmas.

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Mid-Year Review. 2013.

Now that I’m a member of the 30-something crowd, I thought it would be a good time to do a mid-year review of all the goals I set for myself in 2013. So here goes:

1. Create an inviting office space. Right now, my office is a fancy way of describing a storage closet. I don’t ever want to work in that room. Instead, I’d rather work on the couch or the kitchen table, which isn’t ideal. One of the first things that I’ve got to do this year is setup the office so that I’ll actually want to work in it and use that room.

Check. Well, almost check. Earlier this year, I rearranged my office space and I’m super happy with the results. I think the biggest improvement was moving my file cabinet, color coding my bookcase, and (of course) clean up all the miscellaneous junk that I had been storing on the floor over the last year.

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The only thing that keeps this from being a full check, is that freakin pinboard that I made, but still need to hang. There it is. Still. Sitting. On. The. Floor. Wonk, wonk, wonk….

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2. Create a cleaning system and station for the house. I saw this in her magazine, and was very jealous. Martha Stewart has a room dedicated to cleaning. It’s where she keeps all her supplies and has a dedicated space for fixing things around the house. While I don’t space to dedicate a room to this, I like the way she thinks and want to create a better system that will make it easier for me to keep my house clean.

Nope. Not even close.

3. Grow some of my own food. I tried my hand at indoor/balcony gardening. The basil plant I bought from Safeway survived several months, but it’s time to buy a new plant and start over. The olive tree that DL got form work is still alive but no signs of any olives yet. The other plant I have are either not flowering or dead. In 2013, I want to try my hand at raising a lemon tree, a cherry tomato plant and planting flowers in my balcony. I also want to get our backyard done so we can actually use it.

Check and check. I currently have an herb garden in my balcony, two lemon tree, two cherry tomato plants, and an olive tree with real olives. And what’s even more exciting: work is starting on our backyard this week! Woo-wee!

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3. Hang photos and art around the house. Our walls are pretty barren and part of the reason is because I have a hard time making decisions about the art we should hang around the house. But I have dreams of hanging some wall paper, more pictures and actual art. If we can get this done, then we’re getting some where.

My walls are still bare, but if it’s any consolation, I know what I want to put on them. My favorites right now are the travel photography of Irene Suchocki. She’s most famous for her “Paris is a Feeling” photo which is licensed for a ton of products. I especially love her travel wanderlust photos — it’s especially cool to note that she’s travelled to many places where we’ve been or plan to go. I have a ton of her prints in my Etsy cart, I just can’t make a final decision just yet.

4. Start Family Yearbook Series. DL and I are only 1.5 years into our marriage, so it’s still early to start this tradition without getting too behind. I want to start documenting our life together and the things we do each year in photo books. But first things first, I need to finish this wedding photo album.

This really needs to happen this year before I’m two plus years behind. Ugh.

5. Plan my dream trip to Europe and go. Like my wedding, this trip of a lifetime is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and will take a lot of careful planning in order to do it right. The planing starts now and there’s no time to waste….like actually asking for the time off once my boss is back from his “vacation.”

Consider this goal, halfway there. In May, DL and I made our first trip to Europe….while it wasn’t the hit 20 countries in one shot trip that I had imagined, visiting London and Paris was still magical and amazing. But why is this half way? Well, we’re going back in November to see Rome, Florence and Venice. Let’s just say, two two-week vacations a year is more acceptable at work than one three-week vacation.

6. Integrate fitness into my daily life. Let’s face it. I’ve never been very excited to exercise and the current state of my health (getting over a cold) is not making me any more motivated. But really, I’m at an age where things can and will go downhill fast. I need to take care of my health before this becomes a super hurdle to overcome.

I had a good start at the beginning of the year, but let’s just say an “injury” sidelined my efforts. Granted, I was already slowing down my workouts way before I really couldn’t do anything. But still, the roadblock didn’t help.

Needless to say, I did not fulfill my sorta pipe dream to run a half-marthon like every other 30-something I know, but I did run/walk a 10K. While I did more walking than running, that felt tough enough already especially when it was done under the blazing hot sun in the desert land known as Davis. Yes, this was the Moo-Light Run. But at what felt like 100 degrees and plenty of sunlight, this was a tough course…even for the more experienced runners. Here’s me after two miles.

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But in a few weeks, I’m going to jumpstart this effort again. Let’s see how round 2 goes.

7. Watch a little less TV on the weekends, and go explore the SF Bay Area more. I like this list, 7×7′s 100 Things To Do In SF Before You Die, and I’d like to try to cross off more things off it. And really, with some of the free tickets that I got from my friend to the SF Zoo and Academy of Science, there really isn’t an excuse not to go.

Not bad, not bad. DL and I have been crossing off our verbal SF Bay Area Bucket List…slowly but surely. Some of the notable notables include: (1) SF Zoo, (2) Academy of Science, (3) Japanese Tea Garden, (4) Biking Across Golden Gate Bridge,

8. Enjoy the last year of my twenties. Cross off more items from my bucket list and try to complete 60% of Marc and Angel’s 70 Things To Do Before You Have Kids. Well, you’re only young once and while it’s not really my last change for a crazy experience and adventure, it sure feels like it.

My 20s are over, but I don’t have kids yet….so there’s still time. Right now, I’ve crossed or sorta-crossed off 50 of these “crazy adventures” off my list. Six months ago I got 30 out of 70. Now, I’m 50 out of 70. But to be honest, some are legitimately crossed off and some are ones that I’ve fudge a little…just knowing me and what I’d be willing to spend my money and time to do.

9. Send out holiday cards at the start of the holiday season. If I can accomplish this in early December, then I know I’ve got my shit together in 2013 if I can pull this off. This year, I sent my cards out today (New Year’s Eve), which means my cards will arrive sometime in the new year. Ugh.

It’s August. It’s too soon to start thinking about this. Not interested in checking this off yet.

A Shower for the Baby Snake

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Yesterday, my mom and I coordinated a co-ed baby shower for my cousin who’s having her first kid next month. And since it’s the Year of the Snake, I’ve been calling it a “snake baby.” Overall, it was fun — a lot of big laughs at some disturbingly decorated baby onuses (seriously, who draws Medusa on baby clothes — apparently, my husband does) and watching grown adults (as in my parents and aunt/uncle) drink milk from baby bottles.

A few days before that, DL and I celebrated another Valentine’s Day at home. We went out one year, and I think that may be the only year we go out. As much as I like to give my hubby a hard time about not buying my flowers and taking me out to eat a fancy restaurants, deep down I know, I’m am partially paying for the overpriced gifts that I know will be cheaper immediately at 12:01AM on Feb 15.

And tonight, we leave for New York City. I’m going for work. DL is going to play. This is the first time that I’m taking him with me on a work trip, and something tells me that this won’t be the last.

Movie Tally: 44

  • High Fidelity - Even though I haven’t watched many of his movies, I still associate John Cusack with 80s movies. So when we started watching “High Fidelity” on Valentine’s Day, I had a hard time believing that this movie was made in the 2000s even though the setting was clearly not the 80s. So what did I think of this movie? Pretty good, but I think I would have appreciated it more if I were a music snob. You know, those people who love to one up each other with their Wikipedia like knowledge of obscure bands and artists, and love to collect vinyls. But the music geekery was just a character trait. The real story was about a guy who has just broken up with his girlfriend and decides to revisit all of his ex-girlfriends to figure out what went wrong in each of those relationships to see why things didn’t work out with the most recent one.

 

  • Finding Nemo – 10 years after it first hit movie theaters, I can finally say that I’ve watched “Finding Nemo.” And I now finally understand that most of the movie stills of the clownfish and regal tang fish are actually Nemo’s dad and Dory, not Nemo and Dory. It’s a sweet father-son story about learning to let your “kids” figure things out on their own even though you want to protect them from all the dangers of the world, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

 

  • Ip Man – This was a re-watch. Great martial arts movie about the Wing-Chun Grandmaster, Ip Man, but in the grand tradition of pretty much all the big, blockbuster movies coming out of China, there a very heavy nationalistic message. But upon re-watching this movie, I couldn’t help but notice that the storyline is very similar to Cinderella Man.

 

  • The Island - This was another re-watch. It’s entertaining, and I’ll watch it if it’s on, but it’s a pretty typical Michael Bay movie: Blow ‘em up, shoot ‘em up.

Happy Chinese New Year

Year of the Snake | Source: International Business Times

This weekend, we welcomed the year of the snake with a 9-course dinner, red envelopes and phone calls to relatives to China and Canada. In other news, I ran/walked 5 miles. Not a bad way to start off another new year.

Movie Tally: 40

Silent Hill: Revelation - Quite possibly one of the worst movies that I’ve ever seen. I really want that 1+ hour of my life back after watching this horrible movie. It just reconfirmed one of the “known” facts of life. Video game movies are never good. As one reviewer described it, “Silent Hill is the place where good actors go to collect a check.”  

Alex Cross - Another awful movie where I was left wanting the 1+ hour of my life back. And while the premise wasn’t as ridiculous as Silent Hill. I had a hard time believing that a psychologist/detective could somehow psychically deduce the next steps of his enemy just by thinking real hard. At least with Sherlock Homes, there was so logic behind the crazy deductions. The other thing that did not sit well with me was the “vigilantism is okay” message. Batman, Alex Cross is not. There really was not “greater good” reasoning – it was purely selfish and it didn’t matter if he bent the law to get his revenge. Yea, that’s exactly what this world needs, and who I (as the audience of this movie) should rooting for. A cop who believes he has the power to be the judge and executioner against people who have wronged him. Also, the side kick was really annoying, mainly because he has no skills or purpose other than yelling at people.

Here Comes The Boom - After sitting through two bad movies, this feel-good movie that was actually good was a welcome changed. Granted, it’s predictable, but it has a lot of heart. The story about a teacher who doesn’t care anymore, learn to care and make a difference in his students’  lives via MMA cage fighting. The only annoying part of this movie was Charice (Filipino teen singer). Jeezes. Just because you have an actor that sing well doesn’t mean you need to make an excuse to let them sing in the movies that they are in. Justin Timberlake gets it (he’s been in a ton of movies where he doesn’t sing, and is actually pretty good in them e.g., The Social Network, Black Snake Moan) and Mariah Carey learned the hard way (Precious, after Glitter).

Argo – Great movie, and even more amazing true story. Granted after reading the Wikipedia page on what exactly was accurate, I’m not surprise that the real Canadian Caper wasn’t quite as down-to-the-minute suspenseful as it was in the movie, but what do you expect. It’s Hollywood.

Gantz – A bizarre movie, but once you realize that it was based on a manga of the same name, it makes sense why this flows so much like a teenage boy’s wet dream. Nerds being called on to save the world with big guns and girls with a lot of awkward close up shots of their buts and busts. And in case anyone’s wondering, the lead character is the guy from Letters from Iwo Jima.

Gantz: Perfect Answer – The sequel to Gantz, this movie (from what I read) deviates a lot from the source material. The ending is downright confusing and the there so many weird plot holes that aren’t explained. But I guess if you liked the first Gantz, you’ll probably still enjoy the second one.

The Lady - A bio pic on Aung San Suu Kyi (the pro-democracy leader in Burma who spent much of her life under house arrest), this is a really sad, but inspiring story about a woman who made a lot of personal sacrifices for the sake of her homeland and people. She pretty much went from being an Oxford housewife to become a symbol of political resistance and democracy in Burma and internationally. She gives up raising her sons and being a wife, and being there for her husband as he’s dying of cancer to fight for democracy. Michelle Yeoh did a fantastic job portraying Kyi in my opinion, and that alone is worth watching this movie.

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