100 percent you don’t have to count the last year of your life if you don’t feel like getting older. The pandemic has stolen a lot from us: I’m inclined to agree that it was a wash of a year, and I can still be the same age I was supposed to turn in 2020. But I don’t want to disregard the tiny but shiny silver linings there were in all the Corona clouds this last year+.

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Lots of people do round-ups for New Year’s Eve, but that is a trash bandit holiday and I’d rather mark each actual year of my life. Every year for my birthday I answer these same set of questions to help me measure moments.

Here’s the last 365.25 days:

cheers, baby

What are you doing exactly right now/what did you do for your birthday? I was fully ready for a terrible day, because I always have massive birthday blues, but it turned out quite lovely. We’re doing standardized testing in school, which seems more pointless than usual since we haven’t had a normal day of education since January 22, 2020 (I counted). They’re struggling to sit still and be quiet for so long because we’ve had so much online school, and have been pretty loosey goosey about assessing them because life’s just been tough.

On top of that, they were off the rails that it was my birthday. They made me punny cards with llamas and sloths and things they know I like. We played “Miss Weight Bingo” and had random story time to fill the day. I ordered my favorite curry, had cupcakes and a happy hour with friends. It was lovely. I ran a 10k against myself I’ve been training for since December and threw a hoedown, forcing my friends to enjoy American “culture” which consisted mostly of carbs and line dancing and beer pong. Authentic.

What shoes and clothes are you wearing?  I’m barefoot; a bold choice considering the two large cockroaches that tried to make a move into my studio this week! Some track shorts I bought my junior year of college and won’t let go of, and a large men’s sweater from an H&M in London I bought in desperation during a trip two years ago when a cold snap hit in April and I nearly froze to death. Twas in this sweater I caught a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster, and am therefore very attached. (A fair amount of whiskey was consumed that day . . . but I still stand by my claim of seeing Nessie.)

I love my hood.

What did you last eat? Last food pic on your phone?  To be honest – chips and guac and then some cake batter. A highlight of being an adult is eating whatever I want. This can also be a negative.

Where are you living?  On the island in Hong Kong, in a hipster slash still pretty local neighborhood called Sai Ying Pun. I’m in a studio, 150 sq ft. On my own. Tiny. I have learned to live with me and my plants and fishies. I have a psychotic neighbor who has a Fu Man Chu mustache, is named Ernest, and is awake and with friends from 11pm-6am, including one with Tourettes who constantly shouts offensive things in Canto and English. I live next to a veggie market, a McDonalds, a park, a Michelin star roasted goose restaurant, a ding ding line, surrounded by a million people I will never meet, with three emotional support cats that visit my patio on occasion. It’s great.

Where do you work?  Same international school, teaching fourth grade, signed for another year. I applied around the world but with Covid, most countries said they were looking for someone already in their country so they wouldn’t have to deal with visas and quarantines. Hiring season begins again in September/October and we will have to see what I feel like.

I guess I did get a pretty cheap vacation at the Queen Mary Hospital Hilton . . .

Where have you traveled this last year? Absolutely nowhere. Thanks, Covid. We’ve done our best to staycation, keep the economy going, etc. so I’ve seen a couple of hotels, but not much.

When did you last cry?  My fish died. When you’ve said “hello” every morning for a year to the same animal, you can tell when he’s gearing up to say goodbye. Poor Jeffery developed a mouth fungus and was so sick he let me hold him and try to clean him with a Qtip. I woke up one morning and he was gone. I was so sad and we had a mini funeral with my class. I replanted the vines from his fisk tank into flower pots and put his toy lion statue in there. They’re growing nicely.

What was the last movie you watched?  I’ve been watching 8 minutes of “A Goofy Movie” every day at snack time with my class and they are loving the 90sness of it all. I like sitting at my desk and watching them watch something I love.

my preciouses enjoying a rainy day. I definitely did not sit in my chair and watch them enjoy it. I definitely did not buy a mosquito zap machine so I could be outside with them more.

Favorite TV show of the moment?  “Ted Lasso” is incredible. “Mythic Quest.” Loved “Why Are You Like This?” I watched all of “Modern Family” in the last few months. “The One” was good. And this year I rewatched all of “The X Files,” which remains a genius show.

Favorite toy of the moment?  Continuing my descent into old person, I bought a mosquito zapping machine.

What book are you reading?  “Invisible Women,” which I recommend for anyone who is or knows a woman. Also “The Song of Achilles” and “Alaska,” a James Michener that won’t end (I’ve been reading it for two years).

How many books did you read in the last year? Highlights?  So many! I’ve read 30 books just since January. Been on a kick. The Scythe series was great, Pachinko, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Normal People, were some goodies.

haven’t been out in so long we didn’t know how to take a picture.

When did you last laugh really hard?  This weekend was really lovely and social. I went dancing. I had a pizza I want to marry. I got my Auntie Rachie fix (passing off dirty diapers) and meet new people and my happiness bucket filled up.

What are you most looking forward to right now?  I can’t wait to meet my nephew in real life. I just bought my plane ticket for a month at home!! 46 days and counting!

What’s your favorite song at the moment?  Because I’ve been running, I’ve been listening to a lot of music. I think my most beloved tunes at the moment are Khalid, Cardi B, dance and rotating through old faves from KOL, Temper Trap, and Better than Ezra. Anything that helps me move. But a new fav is “We Drink Light” by Packwood which is a deLIGHT.

What’s the same about your life last year that you’re happy about? This is hard to answer. Everything feels really the same . . . I am happy to be paid to teach, which I love. My family and friends are healthy. I’m bored of sameness. But so so blessed.


What’s different about your life from last year? What surprised you about this last year or changed it for you?  I’m VACCINATED!!!! So feeling much more hopeful. I moved into my own place for the first time, and have learned to love it. Have learned to be content in my own company. My friendships have changed, but I’ve also learned to have better boundaries on my time and energy (helps to have low expectations for myself and others, because pandemics are rough). I’ve lost weight, which is nice. My skincare routine is more involved and I take more vitamins because I feel older, which makes me grateful to be alive and experiencing it all, as challenging as it is.

staycay vibes = wine at 3pm check in

When and what was your last vacation?  Went for a fun staycation with some friends with games and drinks and photo shoots on indoor swings. Got to get in a pool for the first time since last summer!

What’s your current favorite joke?  

What’s brown, hairy, and wears sunglasses?

A coconut on vacation. HA!

What would you like as a gift right now?  A nice coffee machine. (there is a back story!)

What are you proud of this year?  After years of saying I would, I finally published a book! It’s a collection of pirate jokes and illustrations that can be colored in. It was a pet project for a long time and a great experience. Here’s hoping I can publish a “real” book sometime soon.

I also survived a pretty scary hospital experience during a pandemic. I also trained for and kicked the ass of a 10K. I’ve got a wee promotion for next year. Managed through some pretty gnarly depression. Learned how to make tortillas :). 

What’s an important relationship at the moment?  I have very normal attachments with my plants and I really love my mom.

What are your goals for the next year?  Stay running! I want to do a half-marathon. Finish my last year in Hong Kong well. Be remembered as kind and generous when I leave (and really good at throwing parties). Be open to any opportunities. Keep living the dream.

That’s it for the last year’s journey. Thanks for being on it with me :).