start to finish – a wild and wonderful ride.

Each year for my bday I like to answer these same set of questions to help me measure my moments. Last week had two good friends’ bdays, my own with a fabulous class party with my students, then fun and games and karaoke with my friends. I usually get major birthday anxiety, just general “getting older and didn’t ask to” and also hosting a party literally for myself anxiety, but last week but full of so much fun and love. Hashtag blessed and I wanna remember it. Here’s the last 365.25 days:

What are you doing exactly right now/what did you do for your actual birthday? I write this from my flat, in jammies, after an accidental long happy hour with a good friend, the day after my bday. I was celebrated quite well by my students and friends and work. My kids decorated the class, gave me 38 compliments, prayed for me, spoiled me with presents, were SUPER hyped up. So I too worn out to do much on my actual birthday except to eat leftovers, take a lovely walk and listen to murder podcasts, as one does.

this took my students “FOUR RECESSES MISS WEIGHT!!!! And we fought many times but remained calm.”

What shoes and clothes are you wearing?  A ‘house dress,’ as I call dresses that have worn too thin to be seen in public but are too comfy to donate. This one has tropical flowers on it and pockets. If I were much older this might be called a “muumuu” but that’s a few years down the road, when I enter my caftan stage. I will wear this dress for a week before I wash it and find ponytails, random coins, a lighter, and lost earrings in it when i finally put it in the wash.

I did recently eat soap.

What did you last eat? Last food pic on your phone?  I just ate a piece of cheese with a liberal sploosh of mustard on it. Mustard yellow – favorite color, favorite condiment.

Where are you living?  Same same! 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 live next to a veggie market, a McDonalds, a park, a Michelin star roasted goose restaurant I’m too intimidated to go to, 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.

my amazing patio where I can host so many parties with lovely friends.

Where do you work?  Same international school, teaching fourth grade, signed for another year. I thought I’d be in Asia on a whim for the usual two year contract all teachers sign, and here I am, five years later!

Where have you traveled this last year? Absolutely nowhere. Thanks, Covid. 

they dressed as me for my birthday and I love it.

When did you last cry?  A good solid cry? Ooh . . . I do love to self-induce a good cry by watching emotional Youtubes, but I do know that I had a real good “feel sorry for myself” cry about six weeks ago, after my knee injury, realizing I truly wouldn’t be able to run or play volleyball for a few months.

What was the last movie you watched?  Tried to watch “The Lost Daughter” because I love Olivia Coleman but I couldn’t finish it. 

Favorite TV show of the moment?  I just recently finished all episodes of “The Office” for the first time and wept at the end. Also love “Pen15,” “Outlander,” “Pachinko,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Flight Attendant.” 

reading a lot of Covid negative tests, I guess that’s good.

Favorite toy of the moment?  My beautiful friend Sone just got me a picture printer! I’m so excited to try it out.

What book are you reading?  STILL reading “Alaska” by James Michener. Also re-reading “100 Years of Solitude” for my Spanish class and had forgotten how much incest and pedophilia there is and not really enjoying it . . . and just started the latest release from the Outlander series.

How many books did you read in the last year? Highlights?  Oh gosh, I think over 50? One of my book clubs makes deliberate choices to read feminist literature from marginalized or underrepresented groups, so we get amazing variety. I really liked “This is how you lose the time war” and “flights” and “Girl with the Louding Voice.” 

When did you last laugh really hard?  I asked my students to write a big persuasive report about an environmental issue, and then present it, and one of them did it from the point of view of a dolphin, speaking as a dolphin the entire time, talking about how fracking and ferry routes damage her family home. 

What are you most looking forward to right now?  I guess just to go home? I’ve got the Stolkholm syndrome about leaving HK and then trying to get back in, but I’m also hopeful.


What’s your favorite song at the moment?  I haven’t had a new favorite song in so long! But I’ve started singing “one little, two little, three chicken nuggets” as a line up song for my students, and it’s a hit.

What’s the same about your life last year that you’re happy about?  Well, it’s been meme-ifed, but I guess that I’m still unwanted by even a global pandemic! I’m glad I haven’t had Covid yet. I still love my commute, my plants, my studio, my very dear friends in HK. 

island-hopping with the adopted fam

What’s different about your life from last year? What surprised you about this last year or changed it for you?  Every year different friends leave, which is hard. The international population has really shrunk in the last year, which affects our school a lot, and it’s tough to say goodbye to students all the time. One thing I love is that I’m taking Spanish classes and trying to re-fluent myself after three years of Portuguese in Brazil and then five years in Hong Kong nearly erasing it! My running was really going well until I fell, but I know I’ll get that back.

When and what was your last vacation?  I’ve done two hotel staycations and a house stay since coming back to HK . . . and camping . . . I honestly can’t say except going home last summer and a trip to Tennessee to meet my nephew!

the band!

What’s your current favorite joke?  What do you call two bananas on the floor? Slippers!

What would you like as a gift right now?  The impossible dream – for HK to drop all social distancing and mask mandates with this insane humidity creeping in. Alas.

simply the best.

What are you proud of this year?  I ran seven miles without stopping. I joined Meetup groups and started playing volleyball again and it gave me so much joy. I’ve joined book clubs and a Spanish class and done a lot of professional development. I’ve kept so many plants alive and know them better now! Oh and started a podcast and hit over 400k views on this here blog. And did quite a bit of performing!

if you asked me to do this year without my work wife Georgie, I would say “no thanks, please try again.”

What’s an important relationship at the moment?  I’ve gotten SO lucky with new friends at work – my work wife, my commute wife, and a great group of gals that I get to hang out with all the time. I’ve made new friends through volleyball, Spanish, and book club, and I’m blessed that many good friends are still here and we’re all trauma-bonded with good senses of humor and a willingness to come to my costume parties. I’m so grateful to get to facetime my sissy and nephew and my bestie and adopted nephew. The enduring whatsapps that send around the world. Just grateful for friends throughout the ages.

What are your goals for the next year?  Once my knee heals, to get back into running and my volleyball leagues – that was such a good thing for my mental and physical health.

Try investing. Get to travel somewhere, anywhere! And be a good friend.

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