A Belated Year In Review – 2019

It’s been a minute.

I want to make writing and journaling a habit and not come back here just to do year end reflections, so maybe that’ll be a resolution for 2020.

2019 was a truly momentous year for me. It entailed a lot of major life events:

  1. I got engaged!
  2. I got a new job!
  3. I moved in with my fiance!
  4. We adopted a dog!
  5. We got legally married!

Phew! It seems like a even just thinking about it now. All happy milestones, albeit with new challenges presenting themselves from all directions. Getting engaged means months of painstaking wedding planning, a new job required hours or preparation for interviews (and discretely going to interviews while still at a full-time job), moving into a new place is just hard, period. And getting a dog is like getting a new family member (a baby that never grows up at that), so you can imagine how tough the first few weeks were with our beagle, Coco.

Some moments through the year…

January: I started off 2019 in Korea, after our vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Here’s a shot of a gloriously spicy Korean snack just days before my departure.

February: I got a new tattoo in early February. Here’s a shot from our Valentine’s day dinner at Ilili.

March: We took a trip to Morocco, which was one of the best trips I have ever been on so far. The bustling markets, amazing scenery of the Atlas mountains, and the seemingly infinite Sahara (plus the camel rides!) were absolutely surreal. See travelogue below:

We also made a stop in Madrid, which was my first time in Spain. We spent a lot of time walking around and catching late night dinners.

When I came back from this trip, I suffered from a major kidney stone attack. I showed up to work in the morning and felt a sudden sharp pain on my left side. I had experienced these pains on a milder level before, so at first I thought it was a cramp. BUT the pain became more and more acute to a point where I had to resort to taking short breaths alone in a bathroom stall with my shirt off from the cold sweats I was getting. I ended up excusing myself from work and running (actually slowly stumbling) over to the urgent care, where I was told that they saw traces of blood in my urine and that I had a kidney stone. The pain didn’t fade away for a while even after I got a pain reliever shot through my muscle (the IV painkiller didn’t work because I was too dehydrated for the doctor to locate my vein and administer the meds properly). From there I had to go through a long series of doctor’s visits and CT scans to make sure this wasn’t going to happen again. I’ve been told that the pain of labor is similar in intensity as a kidney stone… so I am terrified)

April: I got engaged!! I knew that it was going to happen sometime this year since prior to February I was told to go shopping for rings with my girlfriends. But this day was a total surprise and I was on cloud 9 for the entire day. Basically, Kevin had planned a hiking trip to surprise propose to me at the top, but due to inclement weather, recruited some friends to help him turn the lounge space in my apartment building into a candlelit photo/flower wall. He also flew out my sister who was living in Indiana at the time.

May: My little sister graduated college and moved to New York. It was really nice having family nearby – just like the old days.

Wedding planning started to pick up… and so did apartment hunting…

June: We were settling into our new place in Hell’s Kitchen. I also was interviewing throughout May and June, and ended up leaving my position as a public accountant to start a new job. I had about 2 weeks of blissful nothing… it felt weird and nice at the same time to not have to show up to work in the morning.

July: A lot of summer activities – from Fourth of July fireworks in Long Island City to my first visit to the Hamptons (I ended up going back for a summer party at work). Spoiler alert: I went through a lot of health problems this year…

When I was in the Hamptons, I woke up with a painful urge to pee. Oh shit, another case of UTI, which I had also been experiencing at a lesser intensity before this incident. I didn’t have the opportunity to find a doctor in the area, I was in between jobs so I wasn’t on a health insurance, so I resorted to finding painkillers (that were not antibiotics) that turned my urine to an alarmingly bright orange. And this overlapped with our trip to the beach, so I was frequenting the airbnb bathroom a lot during the middle of the night. Let’s just say peeing blood and suffering from stinging pain didn’t make for a good night’s sleep. Ever since this event, I have been consistently taking a probiotic/cranberry combination to keep these infections at bay.

Not to mention I had a very bad breakout from an edible I took the day before I got to the Hamptons. I usually have pretty clear skin so this was a major source of anxiety for me.

August: Not to worry! August to a turn for the better, and Kevin and I went to California to see our friends in SF and make it to a Napa wedding. Both were beautiful and fun – SF with its bustling bay charm and Napa with its gorgeous vineyards and scenic views (enjoyed in the Napa Valley Wine Train)

In late August we had some visitors – my high school friend from back in Shanghai and my dad stopped by in NYC during a business trip to the states. Near the end of the month, we took a group trip up to the Poconos for whitewater rafting and some amateur fishing. I nearly fell off the raft but I made it out alive!

September: Fall is approaching – I have to say the most memorable part of this month was our trip to Nantucket. I had never been before, and upon our ferry ride out to the island we realized from frequent visitors that it was an expensive place to vacation. Anyways, the weather was nice and the house we stayed at with some of Kevin’s coworkers was breathtaking.

Thai Festival in Union Square.
Trying to relive the memories lol.

We ate lots of seafood and icecream, and since we were there for a wedding it gave us an opportunity to get dressed to the nines and have some fun.

Back in NYC, my sister’s birthday celebration in East Village.
An apple picking trip to a fall festival!

October – was a major month, mainly because Coco joined our little family! We had been toying with the idea of getting dog for a while (now that we had our own place without roommates), and we came close to adopting a dog twice before they fell through. On Monday, October 14, Kevin visited an animal shelter that his friend volunteers at. I was at work, and suddenly got a Facetime call from him – to meet a beagle that had been at the shelter for just a few hours. In hindsight, it could have been a super rash decision, but we decided to apply for adoption… and well, the rest is history.

Lottery tickets to WICKED!
Car ride home from the shelter.

With both of us being first-time dog owners, it was definitely challenging to live with a new creature at home as part of your family. The first few weeks were full of accidents, panic attacks, and just a lot of anxiety over Coco’s well-being (and ours). Unlike a fish or a plant, a dog requires an immense level of routine and movement… so the big shift in our daily routine was something we had to get used to. And now I totally realize that all dogs have distinct personalities, and Coco is not an exception. He loves to smell things, gets super lazy when he’s sleepy, but likes to run around with other active dogs (especially other beagles!). We are very lucky that he doesn’t bark a lot. As I am writing this in mid-February 2020, it’s already been four months since Coco came into our lives, and life is slowly setting into a routine.

Late October, I started dress shopping for my wedding. I had done a bunch of planning in the prior months, but I really wasn’t sure how dress shopping would go considering there are so many options and so many price points. I scheduled a bunch of appointments and went with my bridesmaids to try on some dresses. It was pretty fun, actually.

What was NOT fun was the actual purchasing. I initially chose the below dress and ordered it to my friend’s address in New Jersey – but the vendor messed up the address so I had to order it AGAIN. And then they messed up BOTH orders.

I ended up going back and choosing another dress, which I love even more!! The whole ordering process was a disaster, but maybe that was a sign for me to go back and choose the dress that I ended up with.

October was also our engagement photoshoot session. It almost got pushed back because it was raining all morning, but the sky miraculously cleared up and we were able to go downtown to West Village, where we went on our first official date.

Coco’s first day at doggy daycare!

November – more dress shopping… (but I ended up finding my dress in December). This was the month that I turned 24. Sometimes I feel like I’m permanently stuck at 21, still a college student at heart. But time flies by relentlessly…

This is not my dress, BTW.
Birthday brunch with the gals 🙂
More birthday celebrations – my first omakase experience.

November was also special because I visited London for the first time, and I was one of 7 girls who were on this girls’ trip. Maybe I’ll do a London post sometime.

A rainy day shot in Notting Hill.
Brunch at Duck & Waffle.

After coming back to New York, everyone was in full Thanksgiving mode. We decided not to go to Kevin’s parent’s in Massachusetts this year because of Coco, so we invited my sister and her roommate over for a small TG dinner instead. It was the first time I ever cooked anything for a holiday, really.

December – already the last month of the year!

A new vanity mirror that I bought during Black Friday. I’ve wanted/needed one for the longest time!
Lucali in Carroll Gardens – as featured in Netflix’s Ugly Delicious
Caroling at the Bookstore cafe I volunteer every Saturday!
More festivities – Kev and I hosted our friend group’s annual Secret Santa in 2019! (I was low key surprised that our apartment was able to fit this many people)
Finally won the lottery tickets to MEAN GIRLS!!!

Right near the end of 2019, Kevin and I decided to get married at City Hall, honestly just to get the paperwork out of the way. His parents came to visit, and my sister stood as a witness. Although it wasn’t a sparkly, extravagant wedding, it felt special in its own way.

And with a banging NYE party, 2019 was over. I must say, looking over these memories makes me feel like I did a lot in 2019, when in the day-to-day reality I felt like I was living a very routine, mundane life. It’s actually motivating me to say yes to more things in this new year.

A quick recap of my resolutions from last year…

Declutter & save – I want to be thankful of the possessions I do have, and not spend money on frivolous things. I want to declutter so that I have more space in my life, and more money to spend on experiences rather than things.

I definitely spent a lot on experiences – A LOT (because of wedding planning), but I feel like besides the required expenses of furnishing a new apartment, I did cut back on my spending on makeup and clothes. I subscribed to Rent the Runway, which has helped me tremendously to curb my spending habits on clothes, while wearing higher-end clothes that I always get complimented on.

Be healthy – I hope to be healthy in mind and body. I want to drink more water, exercise regularly, and consume less processed foods. I want to be humble, thankful, loving, and kind, serving others as Jesus did.

Healthy was definitely not a consistent element in 2019 for me. But I did join a gym ever since running a 10K back in November 2018, which motivated me to exercise more regularly.

Take more pictures of people.

Did that – or should I say of dogs?

Keep growing my hair.

I actually grew my hair until it was REALLY long. I cut it a little in January, just enough to trim the damaged parts.

Become more flexible.

Gotta stretch more… but with somewhat consistent yoga and pilates classes I think I’ve improved slightly.

Be less judgmental.

I think since starting my new job I’ve gotten better at this. Of course, it’s something that I want to keep working on.

Be more adventurous.

I would say I kept to this resolution, notably by going to a girl’s trip instead of choosing to go with Kevin. Over the years I think we grew to rely on each other for different parts of the logistics when it comes to a trip, but without that I was encouraged to push my limits and use teamwork to pull off a big group trip on our own.

In 2020…

  • I want to focus on my mental well-being, acting with wisdom and kindness.
  • Get down to a slightly lower weight.
  • Be more selfless.
  • Read more.
  • Spend wisely.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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