What an incredible year it’s been – definitely one to remember for the rest of my life. To summarize, here’s how it went:
I got married. In September, I married my partner of 5+ years, Michael. We celebrated over the Labor Day weekend this past year, and without a doubt it was such a surreal and incredibly memorable life event.
I bought a condo in San Francisco. In March, Michael and I closed on our first real estate purchase: a 2bd/2ba condo in San Francisco. I would’ve never expected to be able to buy a place, but we did it!
I read four books.
Life on the Mississippi: An Epic Adventure by Rinker Buck (Feb 2023)
Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond (Nov 2023)
The Next American City by Mick Cornett (Dec 2023)
The Injustice of Place by Luke Schaefer and Kathryn Edin (Dec 2023)
Maintained a health-conscious lifestyle. Had 146 running/walking sessions that totaled 450+ miles. PR’d my 5k time: 25:56min at the Claremont Turkey Trot. Completed 69 strength training sessions. Hiked 23 trails totaling 88+ miles.
Flew 70k+ miles in ‘23. Between my employer’s work from anywhere policy, I managed to travel and visit so many places in one year.
Florida – Sarasota and St. Petersburg
Israel – Galilee, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
South Korea and Japan – Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto
Texas – Houston and San Antonio
Alaska – Kenai Peninsula, Denali National Park, Anchorage
Michigan – Detroit and Ann Arbor
France – Nouvelle Aquitaine (Bordeaux, St. Emillion, Medoc)
Mexico – Playa del Carmen
New Zealand – Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, Marlborough, Queenstown
GOALS for 2024:
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been keeping this blog for over 10+ years, and from a goal perspective, at this point many of my goals remain the same. They’re all related to health, travel and knowledge, and the more I can spend time doing these activities (in addition to my day job), the better!
Here’s a summary of my goals’ stats from this past year, and what I can benchmark against for 2024.
Hiking – completed 23 hikes totaling 88.7 miles in ‘23
Walking/Running – 146 sessions in ‘23
Reading – read 4 books in 2023
Weight Lifting – 69 sessions in ‘23
Wine Tasting – 27 wineries in 5 regions tasted in ‘23
Another 365 days have come and gone! A lot happened this year. Here’s how 2022 went.
Moved from Startup Life to Big Tech
I made 2 years at Patreon back in January, but began a new role at Google in February. Going from startup life to working at a big tech company has been a huge change for a variety of reasons, mostly around navigating the intricacies of working for such a huge organization. Thankfully, through helpful peers and colleagues I believe I’ve done a good job at surviving – perhaps even thriving – in my new role.
Hiked the Bay Area
One of the best things I enjoy about living in the San Francisco Bay Area are the endless amounts of trails just a short drive away from home. Over the past year, I visited and hiked at more than 15+ different county and state parks across the region. A handful of my favorites include the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, and Black Diamond Mine Regional Park. I also can’t forget that I got engaged to my partner while on a hike at Sunol Regional Park!
With covid slowly ending, this year marked a fair bit of traveling, though primarily domestic. All told, I visited 2 new national parks (Redwood and Yosemite National Parks in California), 3 new countries (Italy, Hungary, Slovakia), and re-visited a few additional places (2 trips to Florida, 2 trips to DC, 2 trips to Hawaii, 2 trips to Mexico, and 3 trips to NYC).
Enrolled in French language classes
For a solid two months earlier this year (March/April), I attended 15+ one-hour long French language classes, where I was forced to speak French with my tutors through a website called Lingoda. Of all the methods in which I’ve tried learning a new language (i.e. reading and watching the news or travel vlogs in the language), without a doubt speaking the language has been the most beneficial in terms of memory recall.
Started lifting weights regularly again
Throughout the year I’ve maintained my habit of walking 30-45 minutes, 5-7 times a week. However, this year made it clear that walking will help stave off weight gain. Because of the (1) free food and drink that Google offers, (2) being relatively sick for two months this year, and (3) honestly being a little lazy, over the past year I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds (!) Knowing that we have a wedding coming up and that things are finally opening back up in San Francisco, since November I’ve finally begun to lift weights again
Finished another wine course
In the Summer and Fall I enrolled in a 15 week wine course that covered wines from around the world. This class built on top of the course I completed in 2020/2021. I haven’t yet taken the corresponding exam for the course, but determined that for my given use case – that learning about wine is primarily a hobby – there is no pressure or need for me to take and pass the exam. That being said, I’m actively looking at other wine-related courses/programs to enroll in to deepen my knowledge of wine!
Completed reading 9 books
At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to read 10 books. While I didn’t complete 10, I learned about so many new things, including racial identity, affordable housing and water rights on the Colorado. Here’s what I read this year, and when I completed the book:
Where the Water Goes by David Owen (Dec 2022)
The Latinos of Asia by Anthony Ocampo (Nov 2022)
We Have Been Harmonized by Kai Strittmatter (Oct 2022)
No Escape by Nury Turkel (Oct 2022)
Asian American Histories in the United States by Catherine Ceniza Choy (Sep 2022)
The Raging 2020s by Alec Ross (Sep 2022)
A History of the Philippines by Luis Francia (Sep 2022)
The Sum of Us by Heather McGee (Mar 2022)
Golden Gates by Conor Dougherty (Feb 2022)
I also started on 3 additional books this year, but have not completed them yet:
Like, Comment, Subscribe by Mark Bergen
Life on Mississippi by Rinker Buck
Where Great Powers Meet by David Shambaugh
Enrolled in a Judaism 101 course.
My partner is Jewish, and it was a very important thing for me to learn more about Jewish traditions, especially as we start to think about how we become an interfaith family. We joined a synagogue, temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, and overall I’ve found the classes and corresponding readings super helpful!
What didn’t happen?
Eating meatless once a week
One of the benefits of working at Google are the free meals that we have available. Unfortunately I did not actively track how often I ate vegetarian/vegan.
Running a half-marathon
Although I signed up for two half marathons (the Berkeley Half and Golden Gate Half), I ended up not doing either. However, I did run a 5k in November, and hit a new PR (25:54 min / 8:20 min per mile). In the new year, I’m hoping to perhaps do 5 or 10ks, instead of signing up for, but not completing, half-marathons.
Diversifying into real estate – Between the insane inflation this year and the corresponding interest rate hikes, although I wanted to purchase my first property this year, this goal just did not happen. While I’m not currently interested in purchasing a property anytime soon, I’m still continuing to explore options to diversify my portfolio, such as investing in REITs instead.
Goals for the new year:
Run 10 miles each week
Strength train once a week
Hike one new trail each month
Read 1 new book a month
Visit 3 new countries
Complete 1 new wine course
Complete 20 hours of language classes
I’ll hopefully post more later on my travels over the past year, but for now, that’s a wrap. Looking forward to another fun year around the sun!
Hard to believe that another year has gone by, and yet we’re still living through the covid-19 pandemic. Despite this ongoing situation, the past year has overall been pretty good. Here’s how my 2021 went:
Survived another year at Patreon!
The longest I’ve ever spent working for the same company was 1 year and 10 months. As of January 2022, I’ve now been at Patreon for two years, surviving another round of layoffs in April, having three managers in the span of 12 months, and moving from Marketing to Data Science!
Lived out my dreams of being a ‘digital’ nomad abroad
I spent a solid month living in France, and spent a few weeks each living in Costa Rica, Austin, Hawaii and the Northeast U.S. Never would I ever dreamt of being able to live this kind of lifestyle. After experiencing the ups and downs of living as a digital nomad (finding reliable wifi, maintaining a routine, etc.), I’m so thankful to have a home-basis in the San Francisco Bay Area! Moreover
Passed my WSET Level 2 Certification!
I first started getting into wine nearly 6 years ago, after coming across the Wine For Normal People podcast as a way to cope with my 1.5 hour commute each way for work. Back in 2020, I enrolled in a 3 month course, the WSET Level 2, as a way to meet new people in San Francisco and learn more about wine via wine tastings. Back in January 2021, I passed the accompanying test for the course, and received my Level 2 certification!
Deepened my language learning hobbies
Between working for a maturing start-up and traveling, I discovered and have watched countless hours of new youtube channels and podcasts to learn more about French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Additionally, I spent time in both French and Spanish speaking countries to try and immerse myself in as much of the language as possible. For French, my main reason for learning is to be able to read and speak about wine in French!! For Spanish, I’d like to be able to travel throughout the massive Spanish speaking world.
Exceeded my financial goals.
I’ve long been a follower of the FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early). However, over this past year I’ve realized that (1) I definitely do not want to retire early and (2) it’s important to give yourself permission to enjoy the present as well. Over the past year, I consistently contributed to my various tax-deferred accounts, remained completely debt free, and with the unexpected gains in the broad based market indexes, exceeded my financial goals for the past year!
However, some other things did not go according to plan:
Did not run a half-marathon
With the lack of a normal commute, I started doing morning and evening walks around my neighborhood in San Francisco as a means of giving myself some mental separation between work and home-life. According to my app tracker, I’ve walked at least 30 minutes for over 200+ days in 2021. Despite doing 9 half marathons already, because I did not incorporate more running into my daily routine, I backed out at the last minute from running the San Jose Half Marathon – the only half that I had planned to do for the year. Moreover, due to my diet and other reasons, I’ve gained nearly 10 lbs over the past year.
Did not do as much language immersion
Part of the reason for spending a month in France was to immerse myself in the culture and to force myself to speak French, a language that I’ve studied informally for a few years. After spending a few weeks in Lyon, Paris and Strasbourg, I realized that it’s totally possible to get around with speaking very limited French. Additionally, because my partner speaks Spanish, it’s been really easy to NOT have to speak Spanish wherever we’ve visited.
Posted less frequently on LinkedIn
In 2020, I set a goal of posting weekly on LinkedIn to begin developing my own voice on how to talk about my field of marketing operations. However, with my switch from marketing operations to data operations in April 2021, I felt less confident in my ability to speak about my new role. As a result, I posted much less on LinkedIn than I had planned.
Goals for 2022:
Eat meatless one day a week. I’ve lived off of prepared foods from Trader Joes for far too long (though it still beats eating out, which I used to do much more often in my 20s)! I’d like to incorporate more ‘meatless mondays’, have at least one day a week where I’m eating only food that I’ve actually cooked rather than pre-heated or microwaved.
Run at least one half marathon. I’ve signed up for the Berkeley Half Marathon in late February, and since late November, I’ve tried to incorporate more running into my daily routine instead of just walking.
Diversify into real estate. I’ve never owned any form of real estate, but would like to diversify this new year. I’ve been preapproved for a mortgage, but with the continually hot real estate market, I’m also considering investing in REITs instead.
Do at least 10 hours of language classes. I’d like to re-enroll in either in-person or virtual classes to practice speaking either French, Spanish or Mandarin. I’ve found several options, including an interesting program called Lingoda!
Read or listen to at least 10 books. In 2021, I read or listened to just 6 books, all of which I went through in the first half of the year. I’ve created a list of books I’d like to read this year and have re-subscribed to audible. Hope I can read and learn more in the coming year!
China’s second continent : how a million migrants are building a new empire in Africa, by Howard French
China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia, by Daniel Seth Markey
The Emperor’s New Road: China and the Project of the Century, by Jonathan Hillman
Red flags: Why Xi’s China is in jeopardy, by George Magnus
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics, by Tim Marshall
Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs, by Camilla Townsend
This past year has been another incredible year full of adventure. I got to visit a few new state and national parks, lived out my dreams of “living” abroad as a digital nomad in France and Costa Rica, and visited 6 new countries! Here’s some of the highlights from each destination!
From a travel perspective, the biggest highlight however was finally appreciating the proximity I now have by living in the SF Bay Area to seeing my family in Southern California and Hawaii. Never expected I’d get to visit Hawaii (3x) and SoCal (3x) in one year! Hoping to continue doing this more in the new year!
Pinnacles National Park
Death Valley National Park
Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Park
Lassen National Park
Visiting Monterrey 2x
Visiting Santa Cruz
Snowboarding at Northstar in Lake Tahoe
Going to Napa 2x and Sonoma 2x
McArthur-Burney Falls State Park
Watkins Glen State Park
Visiting wineries and sipping delicious riesling in the finger lakes region
Spent a week living in Manhattan!
Spent another two weeks living in Austin
Eating so much delicious BBQ!
Spent 2.5 weeks living in Costa Rica!!
Going zip-lining for the first time near Arenal
Surviving white water rafting on the Rio Balsa
Searching for parrots and other wildlife on jungle tours (2x)
Having beachside massages at Playa Conchal
Living out my coworking dreams in Tamarindo
Wandering around the capital city of San Jose de Costa Rica
Experiencing all the W Costa Rica has to offer!
Spent nearly 5 weeks living in France in 2021!!
Attending a wedding on a private island in Brittany
Biking the Loire Valley while visiting wineries and chateaus
Trying out Senegalese, Mauritian and Cambodian cuisine in Paris
Driving the vin d’Alsace and enjoying some delicious Riesling
Visiting champagne houses in Reims
Wandering around Colmar and other small towns in Alsace
Touring the EU Parliament building in Strasbourg
All the high speed train journeys throughout France!
Eating all the escargot and beef bourguignon at bouchons in Lyon
Learning about red/white burgundy on a private tour at Chateau Pommard
Doing a day trip to Luxembourg from Paris!
Checking out the royal palace
Wandering around atop the old city’s walls
Doing a day trip to Stuttgart from Strasbourg!
Visiting both the Mercedes Benz and Porsche Museums
Wandering around the town square
Spent a long layover in Lisbon en route to Spain
Had pastéis de nata (egg tarts) in Belem
Walking around the Alfama (old town)
Spent a few days traveling solo in Spain!
Finally getting to visit the Alhambra Palace in Granada!
Discovering La Mezquita in Cordoba
Learning about Moorish Architecture at the Alcazar in Seville
Seeing miles and miles of olive trees while riding the high speed trains!
Eating all the jamon iberico and cheese sandwiches
Dipping churros in hot chocolate in Madrid
Learning about Spanish art at the Reina Sofia Museum
First time doing a road trip in Mexico by driving out to Chichen Itza!
Visited some additional Mayan ruins at Ek Balam and Tulum
Experiencing my first time ever staying at an all inclusive resort (XCaret Arte!)
Facing my fear of heights and doing a ropes course at Parque Savage
Wandering around Playa del Carmen and Cancun
Visited Hawaii (3x) in one year!!
Going to Kauai for the very first time!
Hiking at Waimea Canyon in Kauai and seeing Niihau
Various family activities on the Big Island for my grandma’s funeral and on Maui for my grandpa’s 90th birthday and mini-family reunion.