Every year after I file my taxes, I look at my expenditures and for the past few years, I’d write a blog about it so HERE IT IS! I just got my tax refunds back. I owed $1,500 more in federal taxes and I think $800 of that was because of my itemized deductions were capped.
Last year and early in 2018, my biggest expense was paying off my new car, so that created a huge outlier. Otherwise, my biggest expenses are always travel, then food. I spent $3,500 more in travel this year compared to 2017, but that’s because I went on two international trips (Portugal and my European Christmas Markets tour), whereas in 2017, I went to Hawaii and a couple other southwestern US trips. I split out my travel this year for the first time and it turns out I spent $3600 for Portugal, $2400 for Europe, $755 for Zion, $831 for various other domestic trips and then $721 for trips that will happen in 2019. God that Portugal trip was a HUGE dent in my wallet, for reasons I SHALL NOT REPEAT HERE!
Then I spent just $200 less in eating out compared to last year. It turns out about 25% of my eating out expenses is comprised of food I eat while traveling. The most expensive meal I ate was Alma in Portugal with Robyn (total of $278), then Minibar in Portugal with Robyn (total of $106), then Fable in SF with Robyn (total of $101) SEE A PATTERN HERE? In Europe my most expensive meal with Kim was $59 for the both of us LOL
My bills are pretty consistent, it’s pretty much just PG&E, internet, Spotify and home insurance. Potentially in 2019 I’ll splurge on a gym membership (even though I have free gym at work) BECAUSE I’M SO FAT! Also starting 2019 I’m going to start breaking apart my Costco receipts by groceries/shopping because it seems distorted for 2018 since I just lumped all my Costco purchases as groceries.
Next year my trips are (currently) all domestic trips. Since that’s usually my biggest expense category, hopefully this means I will be spending less overall!
This is SO LATE! I finally posted my Winter in Europe posts. I think I might have previously given more thought around this, but I’m going to have to leave this at more of a list this time.
I will note that these are movies I watched in 2018, not necessarily movies released in 2018. While I feel like I do watch a good number of movies in theaters, it seems that the ones I like most are the ones watched in the comfort of my own home!
– Blockers: watched this at Robyn’s – it was hilarious and didn’t have a terrible message to women! This should have been a bigger blockbuster hit
– Happy Death Day: I LOVED this – Jessica Rothe is great in it and the script is legitimately funny. However, I had no interest in the sequel when it came out in 2019.
– Crazy Rich Asians: Ok I enjoyed it, but this is mainly on my list because I watched it TWICE in theaters and I took my parents to watch it. This was the first movie they’ve seen in theaters in DECADES and they enjoyed it and I felt rather proud of being able to accompany them to this movie. The theater was PACKED – we watched on opening weekend in Arcadia, and there were so many other families where people my age were taking their parents/grandparents! So I loved this movie for the memory/movie going experience.
– Honorable Mentions: Black Panther, Widows, A Star is Born, Eighth Grade. I was the MOST excited about Black Panther, but one year later, I can’t say I ever bothered to sit down and rewatch it when it was made available on Netflix.
– Rachel Bloom: I think we saw her as part of SF Sketchfest? This is the second time I’ve seen her live – both times she sang songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show I don’t really watch but I SHOULD and you probably should too! She is always great live – what a voice! And hilarious. And so likeable. She needs to be a bigger deal in Hollywood!
– Janelle Monae: Robyn and I saw her live at the Masonic Theater which was a great venue. We ended up very close to the front of the standing area. She is AMAZING live. Great voice and performance. Flawless skin!!!
– The Bold Type: I got SO obsessed with this show. It was the type of show I would be excited to watch the day of, and would go home and obsessively refresh Hulu until the new episode appeared. This show is surprisingly well-written for a FREEFORM show!
– The Good Fight: I watched this over winter break. I had been waiting for an extended period of free time when I could sign up for CBS All Access and watch two seasons in one free trial. It was great! But I might be only person who didn’t love the second season that much. Nevertheless, Christine Baranski is worth the watch!
– Terrace House Opening New Doors: If you don’t know what this is … THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY! A co-worker recommended this to me as “Japanese Big Brother … but very addicting!” I ended up trying an episode randomly, and became VERY obsessed. I’d sit and marathon an insane amount of episodes over weekends. And then all of a sudden, I just … lost interest! Well, I guess what happened is I ran out of episodes, and once Netflix released the next batch of episodes, I never bothered to see what had happened to the cast of characters. It’s a really interesting show to watch from a cultural lens.
– Elite: This is a Spanish teen soap on Netflix. It annoys me that shows like this and Terrace House are never on “must see streaming TV” lists, probably just because they’re not in English! But this is like the OC but MUCH BETTER. We watched the first season in a single weekend.
– Disappointments: OITNB, Sharp Objects, The Handmaid’s Tale. I hate them all!
– Today Explained: It’s crazy to think the first episode of this podcast came out Feb 19 2018! I was already listening to The Daily every day, but after a few months I started listening to only select episodes of The Daily while listening to every episode of Today Explained. I think the problem with The Daily is that sometimes they do WAY too many consecutive episodes on the same topic, whereas Today Explained makes me feel like I’m actually learning new varied things.
– Who Weekly: I ended up listening to this as a podcast recommendation from Game Plan by Bloomberg. I listened to a good number of episodes at work as just “background noise.” Specifically during my busy season in Sept/Oct, this was a great podcast to just play and not really pay attention to, since half the time I didn’t know what they were talking about. I don’t know what happened, but at some point this podcast changed from a “background noise” podcast to a “only listen when I can pay full attention!!!” podcast. Even though I don’t know who they’re talking about a lot of the times, there are times when I had to really hold back my laughter. I got to see them live in 2019 too!
– Keep It: I also can’t believe this podcast only started in 2018! It feels like such a staple. This is one of the podcasts that I listen to IMMEDIATELY after it comes through my podcast feed. Funny social commentary!
– Portugal: A very expensive trip due to CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES but otherwise, Portugal is a great country to explore! Great food, easy to navigate, variety of things to do
– Zion: An extended weekend trip where Robyn and I did Angel’s Landing, The Narrows and a few shorter hikes! It was in November, so there weren’t very many people in the park. The weather was perfect, hikes were nice, and I loved all the food we ate. I need to go on more nature-centered vacations.
– Las Vegas: Robyn’s mom treated us to a Vegas weekend for our birthdays. She got tickets for us to watch the Beatles show (I fell asleep in part of it :X ) But I’m growing to appreciate Vegas for what it offers – I don’t gamble at all or particularly like spas/pools/shows … but I LOVE the food! And I always love the feeling of staying in a hotel. My favorite memory of this trip was having the room to myself, so I decided to take a HOT BATH. I ended up putting in way too much hot water, so I was sweating and very uncomfortable but I was like “I’M GOING TO ENJOY THIS LUXURY DARN IT!” so I sat there listening to the A Star Is Born soundtrack and forced myself to enjoy my 4pm bath.
– Taberninha do Manel, Porto: the greatest random find of the Portugal vacation. We had a cheesy bread that I still dream about.
– Manteigaria, Lisbon: so much nata! They were 1 euro each and always a treat. They were the most perfectly baked nata.
– Craft, Los Angeles: Doris’ wedding! I don’t remember what was served but I loved this wedding because rather than putting money in a ceremony, they put money in a DELICIOUS private dinner!!!
– Magpie’s, Los Angeles: I usually hate soft serve – I don’t know what they do differently here but I remember thinking I liked the stuff here more than most ice creams. I don’t even remember what flavor I ordered!
– Raavi, San Francisco: I think it was in 2018 when Robyn and I tried Raavi’s Indian food take out for the first time and now it’s our go-to! And we do order in from this restaurant at a shocking frequency. The first two times, we had the worst delivery service ever and I was ready to blast them on Yelp … but then we tasted the chicken tikka masala and were like … well … it’s actually really good…
– Honorable mention to the red velvet cupcakes Frances made me for my birthday which were the best cupcakes I’d ever had. I’d sit in the office and think about them, waiting for the moment when I could return home and eat them for dinner.
– Miracle by Chvrches
– Malibu by Miley Cyrus
– I Like It by Cardi B
– We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights, Adam Winkler
– The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
There’s not much I can say about these books. I guess I just like non-fiction!!! They were very informative though. I love books that make me realize there’s a reason why things are the way they are. Usually it’s because of … RACISM!
– Soap from Flying Tiger, Lisbon: When we arrived in Portugal, I found out that our airbnb only had liquid soap, which I HATE! (I didn’t realize this goes against the millennial trend). But I went out on the first day, found a Flying Tiger, and bought two little bars of soap for like 1 euro each. BEST PURCHASE EVER! It brought me the comfort of home and I love that it was relatively cheap.
– Nike shoes from Sports Basement, San Rafael: I went into Sports Basement for fun and within ten minutes, randomly found shoes that I liked and I wear them all the time now!
– Puma Sports bras from Costco, Foster City: Ok I might have bought these at the beginning of the year, but it wasn’t until summer or something that I finally realized that I could just wear sports bras to work or on the weekends and basically ALL DAY LONG. I love any time that I don’t have to wear a wire bra now. I need to buy more sports bras because I’m going to start EXCLUSIVELY wearing them!!!
This is a little unfair because I just spent a few days sorting my Winter in Europe photos so none of them are included here! So this is very Portugal-oriented
I was just in an uber pool with a couple going to their WEDDING and they had the audacity to be mad at ME for joining the pool even though they chose UBER POOL on their WEDDING DAY
I spent about $5,500 more than what I spent last year. But considering that included in my total expenses is about 60% the price of a new Honda Civic, that is NOT THAT BAD right? That actually sounds really insane – why would I have spent so much less…
Ok I saved $1,200 by NOT having to replace a water heater in 2017. I saved about $200 by switching from Comcast to Wave for half the year. I saved $4,000 in vacation expenses by 1) taking one less NYC trip, 2) taking a flight to Hawaii in 2017 as opposed to flying to Japan in 2016, and 3) my mom reimbursed me for hotels I booked for the family vacation to Alaska this year. (I didn’t ask her to and she hadn’t done this in prior years)
I spent $900 less in eating out (success!) which was offset by a $300 increase in groceries. I spent $1,000 more in shopping though … what did I even buy?!?! I looked through it all and all my “shopping” expenses was really wedding and baby gifts and nothing for me. Boo to having friends! My 2018 goal is actually to go shopping more often. Specifically, to buy things for my closet and not just DVDs or knickknacks for the house. This sounds like such a backwards resolution, to spend MORE money. But I need style!
It’s the last weekday of my two week winter vacation (cries inside). I had initially thought I’d drive back to the Bay Area on Friday, so I’d have a full weekend to get used to not having delicious meals cooked by my mom. But then Google said it was raining on Friday night and since my dad just washed my car, I thought I might as well stay an extra day. Well New Years seems long ago now. Of course I had TONS of things I wanted to accomplish over the break and instead spent an unexpected amount of time on twitter, youtube, and watching brooklyn 99. At least I read THREE books though!
Top Live Events:
Blondie Concert in Saratoga: I didn’t really go to too many concerts this year, probably a consequence of losing interest in music and spending all my ear energy on podcasts. BUT Robyn really wanted to go to a live event at Mountain Winery in Saratoga, and the most interesting event was Blondie. I ended up loving watching them live, and since I only knew two of their songs to begin with, I ended up LOVING their new stuff!
Rachel Bloom in SF: Laura had an extra ticket and she invited me since I said I had watched My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend before. I didn’t end up watching all the episodes prior to the performance, but it was still delightful to watch. I wasn’t sure what to expect, for some reason I just assumed she’d be doing standup, but she actually sang a TON of the songs from the show, BY HERSELF. Her voice is amazing, she’s hilarious, she’s super interesting AND the best thing was … she started her show EARLY.
Dan Savage in SF: This was a Dan Savage Live episode where he just took audience questions and went through every single one. I felt like it was a fun summary of all his greatest relationship and political themes. I didn’t end up asking a question but had I thought about it, I would have asked, WHO is taking all the great photos that his husband posts to Instagram?!
Rossopomodora in NY: This was the chosen restaurant to sort of celebrate Robyn’s mom’s birthday. Robyn’s friend Rachel gave us a few to choose from, and I liked the Italian menu here. The hand made pasta was DELISH. The restaurant itself was surprisingly large, and I was probably most affected by our table that was set in the corner so we weren’t elbow to elbow with strangers. We shared the tartufella pizza (mozzarella and mushroom) and I had the bolognese ragu. I know when I see bolognese on a menu, I always really want to eat it, but I always think to myself, “it’s just MEAT SAUCE.” Well, this was the best bolognese I think I’ll ever have and I’m glad I went with it.
Tin Roof in Maui: I ate a lot of good food in Maui, but I loved this restaurant, which was opened by Top Chef alumnus Sheldon Simeon. The hours here aren’t great, the seating options are horrible, and it’s super packed and a bit uncomfortable to wait in line to order and get your food. BUT the food is SO GOOD. Robyn and I got the Mochiko Chicken (chicken and rice bowl) and the chicken sandwich. I’m honestly devastated we weren’t able to try everything on the menu.
Matsusakagyu in Osaka: This was our splurge restaurant in Japan, a prix fixe beef restaurant. The course came with “beef sushi,” short ribs, a platter of different marbled beefs, a salad, dessert, and perhaps my favorite part of the meal (which is probably among the cheapest parts of the meal) THE GARLIC RICE. omg the garlic rice was hands down them most delicious rice I have ever had in my life.
Insecure: In terms of how immediately I watch a show the moment it’s available to stream, Insecure must be the #1 show of 2017. I love this show and Issa Rae.
Big Little Lies: What a pretty show. A few episodes in, I was like “I AM GOING TO READ THE SPOILERS.” I appreciated this show for its great cast and real estate.
The Handmaid’s Tale: The cinematography was so stunningly done, I was in awe every episode. Also, I was thrilled to find out the director of three episodes, Reed Morano, was female when for some reason I just assumed Reed was a male name. (After looking at IMDB, 4 out of 5 of the directors for the first season were female!) I liked that this show won Alexis Bledel win an Emmy, because who would have thought?!
Jane the Virgin: I tend to just marathon this show when it’s available on Netflix so I don’t really stay on top of the show but it’s just so consistently good! I wish this show would get more accolades because it certainly deserves it. I also adore Gina Rodriguez
Honorable Mention: Riverdale: I watched about 14 episodes over Thanksgiving so that must mean I loved it, but then the moment my break ended, I completely lost interest in the show. I have no idea who the Black Hood Killer is but having seen an article that was like “This Can’t Possibly Have Been the Black Hood Killer Because WTF,” I assume the show did not proceed in the right direction.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: this was my favorite book of the year and the other two are honestly only on the list because I don’t want to come off as someone who is incapable of picking up a book. I knew nothing about Trevor Noah so everything in this book was like WHATTT??? WOWWWW!!!!! I recommend this book to everyone and always say “he barely talks about working as a comedian! that’s how full his life has been!”
To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy: I thought this was an insightful and educational book and the author, who had worked as Pixar’s CFO, came off very likable and thoughtful. And I thought this book was surprisingly inspiring, because it creates a sense of purpose in building a business
Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock: I put this book on the list even though I don’t remember a lot of her stories, because I vividly remember thinking “I MUST read ALL of her books” the moment I got to the last page. Reading this book also inspired me to listen to her podcast, though admittedly I only listened to the episodes where I already knew her interviewee.
Lorde – The Louvre
Angus & Julia Stone – Chateau
Portugal the Man – Feel It Still
Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
and pretty much all of Kelly Clarkson’s new album Meaning of Life (but particularly for Slow Dance and Medicine)
Tatter Tot & Patton: Ok this is kind of cheating because I watched this at the Napa Film Festival and it hasn’t been distributed yet, but this was a really well shot movie and pretty interesting. I hope it does get picked up – it’s basically about an LA girl having to go to South Dakota for the summer.
Mudbound: I watched this Netflix movie because I saw so many articles that said “Mary J Blige is a revelation in this!” and the second I started watching it, I completely forgot she was in it and it wasn’t until the credits rolled that I was like “MARY J BLIGE WAS IN IT?! WHO WAS SHE?!” because she is SO good in it. I find this movie to be pretty dark but gripping.
The Last Jedi: I guess? To be honest, I love the little Behind the Scenes promo they showed at Comic Con than the movie.
Maui: Because of Robyn, I stayed at the most hands down most luxurious hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my life, the Andaz. The most hilarious parts of this trip was when I went on the hotel’s Garden Tour and was shocked to find out that I was the ONLY person who showed up. It ended up being a great private tour with the two hotel gardeners. Of course, tons of delish food. The reminder for myself, that I should have remembered from the first time I was in Hawaii, is that rather than packing light, you should actually pack TONS of extra shirts because it is SO HUMID in Hawaii that it feels disgusting to rewear anything.
Palm Springs: This was Robyn’s 35th birthday celebration, though it was awfully close to my own birthday. I spent a LONG time planning things like trying to pinterest decor for our vacation rental, cake designs and a super cool souvenir gift for all our weekend party joiners. Sadly, I wasn’t even able to get my last option cake which was the Berry Chantilly at Whole Foods, but had to get a random RALPHS CAKE. But the house was amazing, and I’d never been able to claim the best room of a shared house before, and I must say, it felt GREAT. Our bathroom was insane, it had a direct door to the backyard, and it was kept at a freezing 60 degrees. We took Monday off (which is my preferred take-off-work day) and it was a fantastic decision.
Alaska: Cruise with my family! My favorite part of the cruise was that we could split up but know that we’d all see each other again for our assigned dinner time. A note: we had been advised to get the first dinner seating which sounds insanely early at 5:30 or so. But it is truly the better option, because after a whole day of going around outside the ship, you WILL be hungry by 5:30, and if you had a later seating, you’d probably end up eating some lesser food that would end up making the actual dinner course less delicious. I’m also glad I got a mix of solo travel (my one day in Anchorage) and self-guided travel with my family (3 days in Vancouver and Victoria) in addition to this cruise.
Phoenix: Came here for Eugene’s wedding weekend. I detest the heat but ended up having a great time here. Partially because we woke up SO early on Saturday morning for a hot air balloon ride (that didn’t even pan out!) that we had completed a pretty full day by the time it was 11am. When it’s 100+ outside, it just feels so much more luxurious to blast the hotel AC. As a note, when our plane landed in Phoenix at 11pm, it was 92 outside. And I STILL had a great time!
Well I still need to post some days on Japan and also repost all my Japan pictures to my posts because I deleted them in annoyance. But it’s January 1st so I might as well do this 2016 best ofs post!!!
I think the biggest change in my life for 2016 was that I’ve become REALLY obsessed with podcasts. I was listening to a handful before but this is the year that it has gotten a little out of control. As of right now, I’m subscribed to 29 podcasts (although I haven’t listened to any of the episodes for 9 of them). I just get into a podcast craze every few months and fear that I will run out of podcasts and will go on a subscription rampage to stock up. It’s at the point where I’m realizing that my constant podcast listening is harming me because I can never concentrate on anything, I have very little quiet time to myself and I’m probably destroying my hearing because I turn the volume way up when I’m on public transit (naturally, my greatest pet peeve of 2016 was mumbling podcasters). Most people use podcasts as a way to pass their free time but I feel like I’m starting to prioritize sitting and listening to podcasts over doing things that require mental concentration.
Regardless, here are my top five favorite podcasts:
NPR Politics: Just as there are certain shows that people once HAD to watch live, or HAVE to watch the day it is available online, this is the podcast I will immediately stop everything for when a new episode is available. I will actually use my data plan to stream this podcast on my phone, if I’m not yet at work. The downside of this podcast is that I’ve become informed about our nation’s politics, and I now wish I could return to my pre-2015 levels of obliviousness.
Suggestion: It pains me to listen to this episode now (or really, any episode pre-election) but one of my favorite episodes was this one, Trump On Tape, primarily for the long pause and quote “can we just have a moment of silence for our democracy” after they played the Access Hollywood tapes.
StarTalk: I do not really know how to sell a podcast about space and science. All I can say is this podcast is far more interesting than the general public would presume. Neil DeGrasse Tyson hosts, and on every episode he has a comedian (or two) on hand to either comment on an interview Neil has conducted, participate in a “cosmic queries” session where Neil answers submitted questions on a particular topic, or take part in a live talk.
Suggestion: This episode had nothing to do with space, but was one of my favorite discussions. Also, since I listened to this episode when it came out, I felt super cool actually knowing who Alexis Ohanian is when I read Serena Williams’ engagement news – Unraveling Reddit with Alexis Ohanian
What’s The Point: Towards the end of the year, they changed the format of this podcast to be more of a book review, since the host Jody Avirgan, is moving onto something else. I don’t really enjoy the book reviews, but the other episodes are interesting perspectives with a data lens. So much of the world is influenced by algorithms.
Suggestion: An episode on the history of data collection in politics
Show Your Work: This podcast is ostensibly about celebrity gossip but it is truly about SO MUCH MORE. The host, Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip, writes the only celebrity gossip site I check regularly. As she says, celebrity gossip is not meaningless. It’s insight into our culture, perspective, biases, assumptions and more.
Well I meant to link to her episode on the Brangelina breakup but the podcast link has broken, I think a little suspiciously. That episode was JUICY. But the others are still great!
Code Switch: Discussion of pop culture with a focus on race/identity. I feel like there’s always a few extremely insightful quotes in each episode. The range of topics is so diverse yet each one is relatable.
Suggestion: the episodes right before and right after the election results provide great perspective.
Naturally the next entertainment list has to be my top movies of 2016. This is also the year that I discovered the pure joy of going to watch a movie alone. Here are all the benefits if you have never done this before: you can watch a movie completely on your own schedule, it’s much easier to find seating, it honestly feels like a more immersive experience, and you can watch ANYTHING YOU WANT! No more “I actually heard the reviews for that movie are terrible” or “I think you’d like it, really!” I do what I want! The real impetus for watching movies solo is that there is a small theater less than a mile from where I work, and they only show two movies at any time, and they are always small independent films. And at some point of the year, there is always going to be a handful of indie films I want to watch but can’t really find anyone else to watch with, so why wouldn’t I spend my Friday afternoon, after a week of work, having some silent rejuvenating fun?! I also LOVE going to theaters alone and getting the early bird showing. It seems like it would be such a drag to find someone willing to watch a movie at 9am, no matter how much I proclaim, BUT YOU CAN WATCH A MOVIE FOR LESS THAN TEN DOLLARS!!!
Carol: This movie actually came out so early in the year that I nearly forgot about it (and it might have actually come out in December 2015 – oh well). But this was the first movie I saw by myself in a theater, so I have this movie to thank for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of solo movie watching.
Arrival: I watched this recently (also alone) and there was a brief moment where I thought, OMG I NEED TO ASK SOMEONE QUESTIONS AND I HAVE NO ONE NEXT TO ME! I love Amy Adams. My only gripe is the terrible soundtrack. It’s to the point that you’re taken out of a suspenseful moment because of the jarring instrumental music loudly announcing “THIS IS A DRAMATIC MOMENT”
Moonlight: I also watched this alone along with a handful of other people in the Palo Alto indie movie theater. I totally saw another girl race out the theater alone when the movie ended too. I wanted to say to her, ME TOO!!! I felt like everyone was holding their breath during certain scenes because of the restrained emotion behind the actors. I would recommend listening to this Code Switch interview with the director Barry Jenkins.
Avengers Civil War: I do not know where I fall on the Captain America vs Iron Man spectrum, but I do appreciate a movie with amazing visuals, fight scenes and sound effects, and I will happily wait in line for — oh just kidding I will ONLY EVER go to the Mountain View Cinemark with leather reclining chairs and reserved seating for these types of movies. I will NEVER WAIT in a line ever again for a major blockbuster.
Queen of Katwe: Disney did not do a very good an awful job of marketing this movie, but it was extremely engrossing for a movie about competitive chess, had amazing on location shots, and showed realistic and thoughtful character development. One day soon you’ll probably be able to watch this movie on Netflix and I highly recommend that you do.
And then books … I was really disappointed to find out that I have not read very much this year after going through my GoodReads list. I consider podcasts as my new alternative to reading. I mean, I’m still learning!!!
Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery: I did not know very much about octopuses and through this book, I found out they are fascinating creatures.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren: this book has an even split of 50% learn crazy botany facts and 50% memoir and I couldn’t decide which parts I liked more, they were both written so well! Whenever someone in academia publishes a well-written memoir, I feel like they have reaped a little too much in life. How can you be so smart AND write in such a compelling way?
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: a rare fiction read for me. I read it based on a recommendation from LaineyGossip. This is the kind of read where the plot just effortlessly pulls you along. I read this in just over a day, it was so engrossing. And it’s a pretty heavy read too – sometimes I’d finish a chapter and just think geez this is a bit much but it’s such an addicting read you keep going. You do come away from it thinking, humanity is awful.
I’ve really slipped in terms of TV watching. As a combination of the “Golden Age of Television” and my increased expectations/pickiness, I now have a very narrow band of shows that I’m willing to watch. I have no interests in the acclaimed dramas that leave little room for levity (ex. Game of Thrones, Westworld). There aren’t any reality shows (competition or otherwise) that I get sucked into watching. The shows must be accessible on either Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SHO, Amazon or any otherwise a free platform (which basically left out Horace and Pete). I pretty much require a diverse cast to hold my interest, a strong female lead and preferably a character who is gay or at least SOME gay subtext. THIS IS THE NEW WORLD, PEOPLE!
OJ Simpson the Sarah Paulson one: does anyone really know the OJ Simpson show by its real name The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story? I hate that name. The American Crime Story part is completely unnecessary and seems like it was just thrown on to associate with American Horror Story. I mean, why not just make the title The People vs OJ Simpson: Popular American Glee/Horror Nip/Tuck Story if you’re that far up Ryan Murphy’s ass. Wait I guess I was supposed to say why I loved this show so much. In short, THE HAIR/MAKEUP! SARAH PAULSON! Ryan Murphy can come off my shit list now.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Sometimes it’s nice to watch a show where someone is expressing the appropriate reaction to current events which is not always going to be measured, calm analysis, but RAGE.
3. Insecure: I feel like I’ve fallen into a black culture whirlpool. I started listening to The Read then following Roxane Gay then watching Black-ish, then watching this show. I would be insulted if you called either of those shows “black shows” though. Insecure is at its core, a show about 30 somethings living in LA, with occasional black references that I sometimes get and sometimes do not.
4. Black-ish: Sitcoms keep the world turning. I adore Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi. They have great Instagram accounts because they both have amazing fashion style.
5. Broad City: I have no idea why I find this show so humorous, but I find this show way more hilarious than I think most people do.
5. Jane the Virgin(?): I don’t actually know, since CW doesn’t put their shows on Hulu anymore. How am I supposed to watch your shows, CW?!?! I’m just waiting for the third season to pop up on Netflix, but I’m putting this here preemptively, because I’ve heard the quality has stayed on par with the first two seasons, which means it is EXCELLENT, THE BEST, NEEDS RECOGNITION viewing. This entire cast seems genuinely adorable.
NOT: The Night Of or Atlanta. When having the privilege of telling a story over the visual medium that is television, I really DO NOT need to have a storyline on foot eczema, THANKS The Night Of. At the end of the first episode, which Robyn forced me to watch, I went “WTF HOW DID THAT TAKE AN ENTIRE HOUR?!” I had this same comment for three subsequent episodes, until I told her to watch the show alone. As for Atlanta, I guess I’m not smart enough to get the show because I only found two episodes funny enough where I was not left thinking “ugh when does this 10 episode show get good?” I have found that I generally hate aimless shows like this and Girls. I need to know this show is going somewhere! Just like my life!
If I were a better person: Veep, The Americans. Veep, I also want to laugh out loud at, but I can’t because I DON’T GET IT!!! The Americans, I recognize is an amazing show but I only got through 1.5 seasons and I don’t remember where I left off in the second season and apparently that’s been enough of a barrier for my lazy ass.
Gay Honorable Mentions: Black Mirror‘s San Junipero episode (which might be my favorite hour of television this entire year), select Youtube clips of The 100 (I love when I can watch all the youtube videos some considerate lesbian has strung together of all the scenes between some couple and I don’t have to know ANYTHING about the show’s general plotline), Orange is the New Black…
I don’t know why television, the medium I probably interacted with the least this year, has so much wordspace on this post. I guess I didn’t watch as little TV as I thought I did?
Top songs of 2016… ok well I’m going to just narrow down my favorite Hamilton songs to a select few, otherwise I’d just be making a list of my top 10 favorite Hamilton songs. I think anyone who has enjoyed the Hamilton soundtrack will find that they have different favorite songs fluctuate over time, back and forth.
Hamilton: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: I used to seriously tear up if this song came up while I was at work. I’d just be sitting at my desk, crying, doing nothing but listening to music. This is a song that I have put on my “RESTRICTED LISTENING” list, meaning that it cannot just come up on shuffle. This song is not meant to be listened to when you’re rushing out the door or as background noise. This song is meant to be FELT!
Hamilton: Burn: I also prefer to hear this song ONLY AFTER I play The Reynolds Pamphlet, which is not a favorite song, but serves as a perfect primer. On the Hamilton podcast, The Room Where It’s Happening, people call in and state their favorite song and why. My favorite has been “Burn, because I like to sit in the dark and bawl my eyes out.”
Hamilton: Satisfied: OK THIS IS THE LAST HAMILTON SONG. I think it’s not a coincidence that my top songs are all female-led. This was my very first favorite song of Hamilton, and was probably the only reason I continued listening to the album (I didn’t immediately take to it). This song was the hook that led me to hours and hours and hours of endless Hamilton playing. I truly have listened to VERY LITTLE music outside of Hamilton in 2016.
And I guess this will be my last thing … my top five pictures of the year!!! Man, when looking through the thousands of photos I took over the year for the TOP FIVE, I really realized how much time has been wasted taking pictures of things I don’t truly care about.
The year ended and I just took the time to look at my expenditures for the year. Instead of being like any normal person who would use Mint, I keep these google spreadsheets of my expenditures. I tried Mint for a while a year ago but got very annoyed with all the notifications. But if you don’t get notifications, what’s the point of having the app?! So I deleted the app.
This is definitely a self reflection post that will not interest ANYONE as I can’t imagine who would be interested in seeing what I spend money on.
The first thing is, when I say “I keep these google spreadsheets,” I mean to say, I have documents dated back to 2008 but for 2010 – 2013 only a few months in each year were tracked and I guess I must have been lazy, so there’s several months of missing data. Looking at my expenses pre-college graduation is meaningless as living in Berkeley meant $6 meals stretched out over two days … not the case anymore.
Overall I spent less money in 2015 vs. 2014, though this is less commendable since in 2014 I was purchasing furniture for my place. I consciously decided not to travel in 2014 as all my money went to furnishing three rooms in my house. That came out to nearly $8K of furniture, home necessities, or whatever. The hope was that after those purchases, my spending would go way down in 2015, but it turns out … traveling is EXPENSIVE. I went to Europe which cost $7,900 in total (of which I’m guessing I paid for half) and the rest is essentially money in Southwest’s bank account. So I spent only $1,000 less in travel vs. what I spent to furnish my house. I think I budgeted $2,500 for travel, so that’s a bit eye opening …
I spent the same % in eating out in both years, though I THOUGHT I had made an effort to cook more. It turns out I actually spent less in groceries, so what the hell was I eating?! I spent over $1,000 less in gas – YAY to taking the caltrain! I’ve figured out it basically costs $5 in gas a day if I drive from my house to work (obviously more if I’m coming from SF) whereas I used to just fill up my tank without really thinking about how far $40 had taken me. NOW I KNOW.
Apparantly I spent $1,000 in shopping in 2015 and I have absolutely no idea what this could have been as my wardrobe is not really that improved. Upon further investigation, it was primarily gifts to other people, with exactly four shopping trips for myself. My bills are essentially 50% Comcast (I am forever counting down the days until someone comes in and breaks apart that quasi-monopoly on internet services), 25% condo insurance, and 25% Spotify/PG&E.
The Other category is 20% a trip to Disneyland, 20% Kaskade concert, 20% medical bills (contacts and my fun trip to the ER over Palm Springs weekend), and then other concerts/movies.
I guess that’s a summary of my year in the most boring way possible. I’ll maybe post a more interesting post if I can remember anything.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done this though that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it … every day …
MY LIST OF TOP FAVORITE CELEBRITIES!!!
This list is a bit harder to make now that I have relatively little pop culture exposure. I mean, I still know general celebrity gossip (though thankfully I’ve never been clear on which Kardashian is which), but the number of TV shows I regularly watch can now be counted on one hand, and I watch about ten movies a year, if that.
Because of this, my list is mainly stale, because no one new comes on, and as far as I can remember, none of the people I once liked did anything heinous since my last published list. Actually, that’s not true. I’m pretty sure I once listed Reese Witherspoon but I’m no longer for AMERICAN CITIZEN Reese Witherspoon. I also feel like I listed Blake Lively once but now I can only see her as Blake Staged Paparazzi Shot Lively.
I used to be so into this list making process that I’d have to craft very unofficial point systems to narrow down my list of fifty to a list of ten. +1 for looks, +1 for having the power to make me watch a shitty movie/show, +2 for exceptional interview skills, -3 for terrible dating history, blah blah blah. Now it’s literally just “which celebrities am I excited to see pop up in my gossip site?”
This comes in no real order except my #1 is firmly #1. The fallen include Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lawrence, who have god awful dating history (I mean, I heart Nicholas Hoult, but CHRIS MARTIN?!?!?!). I think three of these were heavily influenced by Frances L, so I will give credit to her here. I also don’t have the time to peruse the internet to save all the photos of all my favorite celebrities, the way I once did in high school and college. I do, however, usually take the time to decompress with some youtube videos, so this list will probably be more video heavy than image heavy (unless I one day find the time to comb through tumblr and find pics)
Here it is … by the time I ever get around posting this post it might be 2016…
10. Carey Mulligan
To be completely honest, I couldn’t name three things she’s been in (1. An Education and 2. ….. Pride and Prejudice) but I ALWAYS click any article having to do with her and she always looks so perfect in candid photos of her strolling about with her husband, Marcus Mumford.
9. Emma Watson
Well she definitely was the sole reason I watched (and finished) the Bling Ring, so that’s definitely a point to her for being able to make me watch something shitty. How could you NOT like Emma Watson?! She’s pretty, inoffensive and respectable. Two of those things are already rarities in Hollywood.
(It is kind of hard to figure out whether photos of her are from this year or eight years ago, but I figure everyone knows what she looks like).
8. Kelly Clarkson
I feel like once every year, I get the urge to watch the video of her winning American Idol. I love that she doesn’t seem to have changed at all from when she first became popular, other than gaining more confidence in herself. Besides my #1, she is probably the celebrity I’d most want to be friends with.
The number of videos of her singing (and slaying at it) are infinite but here is just one
7. Emily Blunt (+ John Krasinski)
She could stand her fully on her own, but how can you beat this duo? They are so cute together.
Love this short snippet gossip piece on her from LaineyGossip
If you haven’t watched Edge of Tomorrow, you really should. Even the parts without Emily Blunt are really good.
6. Cara Delevingne
I mean, it says something when I can now spell her name correctly on the first try. I would be too chicken shit to ever say anything to her, or even look in her direction, if I were ever in the same room as her, but she just seems SO COOL. I was first made aware of her as “Michelle Rodriguez’s model girlfriend” though back then I didn’t even know who she was. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the Cara Delevingne I had suddenly become obsessed with was the same one I had seen in those pap photos, so blurry they weren’t even scintillating.
Frances introduced me to these screen test videos though we watched Cara’s first and afterwards all the other videos felt like they were moving in slooowwww motiooooonnnn
5. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is at the top of my list of “celebrities I didn’t care about until I found out how badass they are and now I like their stuff.” This list is followed by people like Rihanna, Nicole Ritchie… I definitely was not initially a fan of her music, but something about her made me constantly say to Kathy “you remind me SO MUCH of Nicki Minaj!” and I’d try to look for youtube videos that captured Nicki Minaj’s essence. And in the process, I realized, Nicki Minaj stands for a lot of important things and is not just a tart, though that is how she is usually portrayed in media. The moment I REALLY started to like her was when I saw this video of her on tumblr (not sure why it embeds weirdly). Since that moment, I’ve listened to Monster about 1,000 or so times.
Also, pickle juice is a great video
4. Taylor Swift
I LOVVEEEEE Taylor Swift. Though not enough to watch her at Levi’s Stadium. (I think the only artist who would have the power to make me trudge down to that traffic blackhole would be Adele if she ever went back on tour, even though that’d be a horrible venue for her sound). I love her music, I love her Instagram, I love her NYC pap shots even if they’re staged, but most of all, I love her business style. Sure, she is immature (I think she is kind of ridiculous about feuding with Katy Perry) and I can understand why some people might find her insufferable, but how can you deny that she is a bad ass businesswoman?!?! She seems like one of the very few celebrities who truly has complete control over her career and image.
I think it’s hilarious that there were all these articles about how letting Joe Jonas (an ex of hers) hang out was an example of the strength of her friendships and forgiveness. UH, OF COURSE you’re going to invite the guy who once dumped you over a 30 second phone call onto a boat when you’re the #1 selling artist and your new boyfriend is the #1 DJ moneymaker. OF COURSE you are going to lord over your success when he has NO career and has even lost his place as the “hot” Jonas brother to NICK JONAS. I’d be eating that same shit eating smirk that Taylor has if I were in her position.
3. Chrissy Tiegan
I first heard about her from Frances L yearrrrsss ago, I think all the way back in college, when she first told me that John Legend’s wife was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and pretty hilarious on Twitter. I then started following her on Instagram and was like “YES.” Recently I feel like her career is really skyrocketing and I think she’s on the brink of becoming SUPER DUPER famous. I cannot wait to buy her cookbook (and have it as a bookshelf decoration)
2. Kristen Stewart
There was a brief period of time where I finally told myself “ok it is pretty clear that she is kind of asshole-y and really doesn’t seem to have particularly good acting skills” and I was all for taking her off the list, but then I watched Still Alice and the whole time I was like “NOPE STILL ON MY LIST!” And I’ve since returned to my original biased stance of “she’s not an asshole, YOU’RE THE ASSHOLE!” I self doubt myself as a critic of her acting capabilities … on the one hand I feel like she never really transforms herself into a role and I always see her first and foremost as KRISTEN STEWART. But then I think, maybe that’s just me, what do I know, and everyone else says she has such amazing acting skills! It doesn’t matter anyway – I don’t like her for her acting skills. I like her for her cute face, and fuck off demeanor!
1. Anna Kendrick
I ADORE HER! She has yet to do anything offensive/disappointing to me, other than turning out to have a boyfriend. She is probably the only reason I ever occasionally check Twitter and she is one of the few celebrities I’d watch any movie for. I love everything she does.
Listening to – Lorde’s album except for the songs played on the radio
Well, goodbye 2013! 2013 saw a steep dropoff in my blog entries, whoops! I used to do some sort of annual summary I think, but I have no idea what I would write now.
I figure if anything, it must have included
Favorite song: Alesso ft. One Republic – If I Lose Myself
Favorite concert: Beyond Wonderland at the Shoreline (Hardwell set) for EDM and The XX at the Berkeley Greek Theater for indie
Vacations in order of amazingness: 1) Mendocino (short, sweet and memorable), 2) Portland with Kathy (SALT & STRAW YUM), 3) Iceland (lowered only because of my missed flight), 4) Seattle for Bumbershoot and 5) Spain with mom.
Obsession of the year: Checking Instagram after getting my first smartphone
Accomplishment of the year: New job!
What else happened in 2013 … well, as I keep summing up in e-mails I’ve been sending to people I don’t often see, nothing much, other than that I quit my job, got a new job, and am currently dating someone.
I don’t regret leaving my job as an auditor one bit, and really feel like I left at the best time. I also rather enjoy where I work now, even though I will definitely miss a lot of things about auditing. As I tell everyone who asks, I used to work with young people, and now I work with people basically like my mom. So now when I ask about people’s weekends, instead of hearing “I got black out drunk up in SF” I will hear “oh nothing much, just sat around the house.” Now people’s medical issues aren’t “I had to run to Walgreens to get some plan b” but “my hip and back has been aching.” And instead of “WHY AM I SINGGGGLEEEEE” I hear “my kid is in college now, and that’s how long I’ve been working here!” ALL REAL LIFE QUOTES I TELL YOU!
I feel like I threw myself into three different pools in 2013, the dating pool, the job search pool and then the housebuyers pool. I really only dipped into the housebuyers pool at the very end of 2013, but I still feel like it is the harshest. The other two, you can kind of make excuses for if you don’t get what you want. You can tell yourself you didn’t really like it, they must have not liked you for some odd reason or another, but for house buying it really is just plain and simple, HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH.
Not much, I must say about myself, unfortunately.
Well, looking forward to achieving what I figure is the third point of my adulthood triangle: dating, work and HOME!
As always my new years resolutions will be, eat healthy, exercise more, spend less money.
Specifically, more green smoothies via Vitamix, and use the free gym access every day. No idea how I will specify “spend less money” but as long as I can make mortgage payments, that sounds good to me!
Most heard phrase:
“Well it’s just a different generation—”
OH MY GOD. Does EVERY generation have to hear “it’s just a different generation?” as they progress through adulthood? Or was something (ie. the internet) really such a game changer that we really are a totally different generation? I hear this phrase thrown around SO much. I think it’s the new, more derisive way of saying ‘well when I was your age—” (I didn’t do stupid shit like this). It seems like our generation is characterized by an incredibly high sense of self-importance and a belief that the world owes something to them. I don’t remember the flaws of the generations before us, other than one of them had a ton of babies.
Best show I watched:
GIRLS. It’s just easy to watch. It has its shining moments but it’s layered enough that it’s not just punchline after punchline.
Best experience of the year:
Best concert of the year:
If I discount Beyond Wonderland as a concert … I think it would be … the Of Monsters and Men set at NSSN or The Shins in Santa Cruz. Both concerts with Jon.
Vacations in order of awesome:
1. Impromptu week-long Seattle trip involving rideshare with Darcy, flat tire fixed by Carlos, Cascade Mts exploring…
2. Impromptu Monterey weekend trip involving me staying in the house rented for one of our audit teams, dancing around the guest house alone and blasting my music, hiking and feeling peaceful
3. Chicago weekend trip with Eugene and Natalie after training involving a … 43 or something floor apartment, bars until closing and hangover brunch
4. Impromptu week-long NY trip involving food, walking, and stubbornly eating chicken & rice in the pouring rain at Rockefeller Center
5. Hawaii trip involving Maui, Oahu, family
Lessons of the Year:
1. DO NOT quit job before having another job. Given my personality, I am pretty sure I will be driven into a deep depression
2. Plan international trips earlier
3. I do not like having to teach people things
Favorite pastime of the year:
Driving to Kathy’s and 1) sitting around her house, 2) swimming and 3) going to Sideboard
I feel like I’ve done this list annually but this may be the last year because I’m weaning myself off of celebrity gossip. I’ve quit ONTD cold turkey and sometimes I am a little tempted to check it (it was hard to resist when Amy Poehler’s divorce was announced) but I haven’t looked at it since I returned from Seattle! For the first time that I can recall, today at dinner someone said “omg did you hear about Amanda Bynes?” and I didn’t!
I also didn’t make this list for a long time because I don’t really have favorite celebrities anymore. I am too picky for one thing. For females I’m like … well they have to not only be pretty, they have to be interesting and be personable and make good career decisions and also be in seemingly healthy relationships. It’s a pretty high standard. With that, I have:
Favorite female celebrities:
1. Anna Kendrick: The reason Up in the Air is one of my favorite movies
I DID NOT add her just now because I just watched Pitch Perfect. I have adored her ever since Up In the Air! I think she hit all five of the criteria … well I don’t know who she is currently dating or has ever dated, but she seems like a normal person. She’s my favorite part of 50/50 AND Up in the Air. Pitch Perfect may be the first movie I have been excited to see in several years.
2. Troian Bellasario: The most normal PLL of the PLLs
I used to like Shay Mitchell the most on PLL and then my second runner up was Ashley Benson for her shiny blonde hair but after watching that horrible, horribly addicting show for several seasons, I’ve come to the slow realization that Spencer is the best character and Troian is my favorite cast member. I like her style and always think of her character’s fashion whenever I see a hipster animal print dress. I think I first liked her when some twitty interviewer asked her “Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers” and she unhesitatingly said “neither.” She’s like the perfect amount of indie hipster.
3. Kristen Bell: The one who needs to make better career decisions
That’s not a great freeze frame. I HEART Kristen Bell as a person and as an actress but she needs some better roles! I always debate whether she should be on a top ten list because I can’t think of a single project she’s made since Forgetting Sarah Marshall that I have both watched AND wanted to watch. But her interviews are so awesome that it’s forgiven… and I used to think Dax seemed like a very odd choice of a boyfriend but Parenthood is so good and he is in that and it totally makes sense now.
4. Jennifer Lawrence
Awesome all around. I think if I could be friends with anyone on this list it would be her because she could probably give me good inside gossip. She works best in gif mode
5. Emma Stone
My only reservation on this is my brother is so into her that it makes me a little grossed out.
And here’s where it gets rough…
6. Eliza Coupe: the one whose twitter I like
She posts amazingly hilarious and crude tweets and THE BEST instagram photos. In particular I love when she wears her giant plastic glasses and a leather jacket and has her hair in a messy updo. And she is probably my favorite character on Happy Endings, which is a hard cast to choose a favorite from. I know almost nothing about her and couldn’t name a single other project that she’s been in.
7. Nina Dobrev: the one who looks SO GOOD candid
Ok I originally had Jennifer Beales in this spot but I don’t have any photos of her or any good video links and no gifs so … she got bumped off. I like her in spirit. I do not know anything about Nina Dobrev and I don’t particularly care for her boyfriend, Ian Somerhalder, but she is one of the few people who looks amazing both on screen, in photo shoots, and on the street. Love her fashion sense!
8. Candice Accola: the one I hope makes it big
And then when she does, I want to be able to say I KNEW HER WAY BEFORE SHE GOT FAMOUS. And then I’ll probably lose interest. She’s one of the few celebrities who I knew very little about and after following her on twitter, grew to like her more.
9. Kate Middleton: the one who I will always click on
I don’t know anything about her and am not particularly intrigued by her personal story and would probably never watch an interview with her in it but like most women in the world, I will never pass up clicking on a photo of her, so I can stare at her fashion and think “well that looks totally doable, why don’t I just dress like that?”
10. The Cast of Girls
This is a cheat. And also I barely know anything about any of these four actresses. I follow Lena Dunham and she is hilarious and the fact that she writes, produces and acts in a show of her own creation is astounding to me. The way I tried to explain Girls to a coworker: “ok so this show is like the new Sex and the City. Ok. Well. In all honesty, the only similarity it has with SATC is that it’s a show about four women in New York. And it’s also on HBO. But other than that … they live in like … Brooklyn. They’re poor. They don’t have jobs. None of them have any real goals. They’re all brunette. Basically it’s like … hipster Sex and the City.”
Close Cuts: Dianna Agron (because if I could date anyone it would be her), Connie Britton (because she was my favorite part of FNL which is my favorite drama ever), Amy Poehler (because she is hilarious and so boss)
Favorite Couples to Ogle:
Emily Blunt & John Krasinski
Joshua Jackson & Diane Kruger
And for the guys … their only requirement is that they are pretty. And I guess, aren’t misogynists.
1. Zac Efron: of course
I’ve had many a debate with various people about when he looked his best. I’m adamant that he looked his best in Charlie St. Cloud – perfectly proportioned body AND in a tight white long sleeve? WIN. Marina is convinced that he looks the best in The Lucky One. I think he’s gone too beefy
2. Kyle Chandler
3. Jeremy Renner
He is like my new Ben Affleck
4. Matt Bomer
I am appalled that he was barely mentioned in Magic Mike advertising.
5. David Beckham: but only when he is carrying Harper
I have no feelings for this guy other than when I look at pictures of him holding Harper Seven. Adorbs!