I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to pause and reflect on the past year, and at this point, it’s routine: previous year ends include 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Summarizing this past year has been a little challenging. 2021 was so easy in comparison because it felt very neatly segmented: interviewing for a new job and then starting the new job, waiting for the vaccine and being vaccinated, mental health despair and recovering from that, and everything leading up to the roadtrip to after.
2022 was a bit more all over the place due to the fact that a majority of the world decided to push forward with COVID being a reality we cope with, less travel restrictions, and a variety of side quests that kept me on a detour. I felt as if I personally struggled to maintain control of my life as I struggled with sleep problems, maintaining a consistent routine, staying focused on goals that I kept missing, figuring out what I want out of a romantic relationships, and handling issues that I was resentful that were even my problem to begin with.
However, despite the challenges, I felt that I was able to overcome them with as much grace as possible while also doing the most. I will settle on the fact that this year embodied the word more in every capacity. It was a year of more fun, more traveling, more food, more time spent with friends, more time figuring out problems, more injuries, more running, more love, and and more life. For that, I am grateful and overall happier than I was a year or two ago (just more tired).
I have plenty I’m proud of this past year from hitting a 20 minute PR with my half marathon on an incredibly humid day, running my first marathon abroad/third marathon overall/and first Berlin marathon while jet-lagged and still making a PR, figuring out how to ask for help, admitting that I needed help when it came to my sleep problems, reintroducing water polo into my life again and playing and traveling for tournaments, reading fifty books, planning a 1.5 week trip to Europe a week in advance, and restarting French lessons.
When I list it all like that, it’s hard not to be impressed with myself, especially when outside circumstances made it even more challenging. I’m grateful and elated and still somehow dissatisfied which are obviously recovering over-achiever problems. It’s hard not to nit pick the accomplishments instead of acknowledging that I got it all mostly done and that progress is progress and meeting goals is enough. I’m happy with all that I got done and motivated to keep going.
What surprised me?
Participating and dancing in a traditional Pakistani wedding. Everything about Kauaii and the generosity of my friends hosting. How expensive lobster rolls were this year. How incredible the shaved iced in Hawaii was. The views of the Bogota skyline. Being open to love. Just every unforeseen family circumstance. Reintroducing water polo in my life and stumbling into a Venezuelan water polo community. How much I cried from gratitude during the Berlin marathon. How hard it was to fit everything in. How beautiful London is on a sunny fall day. Interesting job opportunities. Laiba finding out I was going to Amsterdam alone and offered to join me with only a week notice. How running and marathon training really are good metaphors for life.
What brought me joy?:
Witnessing my close friends marry their soulmates. All the different ways I got to spend time with my friends: during birthdays, bachelorettes, weddings, showers, reunions, and more. The sunrise over the Kalalau Trail. Sunsets in Cape Cod. Getting drinks with Anna and discussing how to navigate life right now and then the night always escalating into a story. Cheering giant steins with strangers at Octoberfest. Making tiktoks with friends. New York on marathon Sunday. Meeting my parents cat. Getting to tour Bogota with Ross. Watching my friends transition into new phases of their lives including moves, getting into new relationships, and starting PhD programs. Running through Rehoboth and catching the sunrise. Seeing Bad Bunny in Yankee stadium. Marathon cheering in general. Becoming a WNBA and NY Liberty fan. Sitting at the beach in Marthas Vineyard with Daniel. Visiting museums in D.C. with my high school friend, Sam. Every shocking win at the World Cup and watching the final in a packed biergarten. Being driven around my college campus in golf carts.
What inspired me?:
Running the same race as Eliud Kipchoge as he broke his world record at the marathon again. The activism and resilience in the face of the loss of abortion access. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva winning the election and fighting for the Amazon. The excitement behind Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez. The resilience of Ukranians. Watching my abuela recover. New York being New York. The prevalence of bikes in Amsterdam. Watching my mom become an US citizen and voting for the first time. The way my friends showed up for me: Joe showing up to my apartment with a week of food meal prepped for me. The empathy I received.
What challenges did I face?:
Being unable to sleep despite being physically exhausted from training. Injuring myself while marathon training again. Struggling to figure out what I wanted out romantic relationships and figuring out who I want to have in my life. I felt as if this year was testing me with more and more challenging final bosses and instead of completing and idling I just kept leveling up on the challenges. Most frustatingly, I felt as if I lost a lot of control of the way I was trying to drive my life, routines, and decisions.
Where did I grow?:
Learning to think less black and white. Being more open to people, situations, and opportunities. Revisiting things that have brought me joy in the past like water polo and French. Leaning onto my friends and being more comfortable for asking for help and sharing what I was struggling with. Being a little kinder with myself. Learning a lot about dating in general and figuring out how to navigate this chapter in my life where I feel so young. Handling difficult situations with more resilience.
Where did I miss?:
Being able to run a marathon injury free and missing my goal time due to that injury. Spending my time exhausted. Every opportunity to communicate better. Remaining organized and losing control. Slacking on routines that I was maintaining consistently. Not getting enough opportunities to volunteer meaningfully and contributing to communities. Doubting my decisions and forcing myself to learn hard lessons again and again. Not properly studying and failing to attempt the OSCP. I didn’t learn how to surf or scuba again this year, it’s been on my bucket list for far too long.Not having enough time to race any triathlons.
A year of travel that ended up consisting of a monthly trip. I got to visit my friends in LA, Austin, and Cape Cod again as I’ve done annually. Plus I got to visit some more places like Rehoboth and Avalon for the first times and others like San Diego, D.C, Martha’s Vineyard, Philly, and Boston for the first time in a long time.
Most notably was of course Kauaii which was probably one of the most beautiful ethereal places I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The trip included long hikes, lots of time reading on the beach undisturbed, eating plenty of poke, and whale watching. Next was a quick trip to Bogota to visit my friend, Ross who has become a restaurateur and in a whirlwind couple days went hiking, had incredible food, saw a lot of the city and, did not drink at all, and played tejo. And the biggest trip, that I somehow only ended up finalizing booking everything for a week in advance was a European voyage that involved running a marathon within 24hrs of landing in Berlin, going to Octoberfest and frantically searching for a dirndl, doing almost everything in Amsterdam in two short days, and then heading over to London to cheer for another marathon and to tourist. It was my first time visiting all those countries, and the art, history, and architecture was more than I could’ve ever asked for (but in the food department, it definitely was lacking).
Most hilariously was the fact that I went to Miami twice in three weeks on two very different missions. The first to play in an international water polo tournament against fairly serious teams and lost every game spectacularly and the second was to celebrate my birthday with all my friends.
Initially, I was disappointed with myself when I was trying to remember great meals from the past year and didn’t have a ton of big memorable ones. Ultimately, I lost focus on finding good new food in NYC and resorted to a lot of the same due to laziness and feeling like I’ve exhausted everything in North Brooklyn. Outside of NY, standouts from months ago remain from Hawaii and Bogota which says everything you need to know.
- Poke from the Kilauea Fish Market in Hanalei, HI
- Shaved ice from Jojo’s Shave Ice in Hanalei, HI
- Hanalei Taro & Juice Co in Hanalei, HI
- Mesa Salvaje in Bogota, Colombia
- Pizza Paraiso in Bogota, Colombia
- Mesa Franca in Bogota, Colombia
- L’artusi in NYC
- Soothr in NYC
- Dishoon in London, England
This is the sixth year that I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge and after increasing my book count per year I hit 50 books this past year. I’ll add, the 50 was a little bit of a struggle towards the end. I loved the diversity of everything I got to read including a Chinese inspired fantasy novel that was slow but rewarding, a riveting narrative about dinosaurs, the most devastating of prose from Vuong, some fun garbage delivered by Mass, and formative work from some pioneers of sci-fi from Butler and Le Guin. Most importantly, I felt as if I read several incredible-perspective changing books that really resonated with me. I did just realize that I didn’t end up finishing any of the books that I started in Spanish which is a bit of a bummer.
Favorites books include:
- She Who Became The Sun, BY *
- On Earth we’re Briefly Gorgeous by, Ocean Vuong **
- The Rise and Fall of The Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte **
- The Essential June Jordan by June Jordan **
- We Do This ‘Till We Free Us by Mariame Kaba **
- The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin *
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin **
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy **
- Our Shadows Have Claws, a collection
- The Overstory, by Richard Powers
Notable entertainment and more
Struggled to remember other movies that mattered this past year outside of Everything Everywhere All At Once and Predator. Everything is an example of what movies can do when they commit to thinking and going big. Ultimately, it made me realize that I spent more time than usual watching TV shows and in particular, it took me awhile to get through all of Boba Fett and Obi Wan until I got to the spectacular surprise that was Andor. I very reluctantly watched HoD after refusing to watch it on principal, but once I finished RoP I felt a chasm that needed filling, especially after reading this profile on Mallory Rubin and hearing her passion on her incredibly in-depth recap podcasts she did for RoP, HoD and then later Andor.
My newsletter subscriptions are completely out of hand and it causes me a decent amount of stress worrying about the quantity of newsletters I didn’t get a chance to read through everyday. However, I did find a bunch of new newsletters that are essential reads for me. I love everything pop culture critique that comes out of Maybe Baby, Dirt, and Embedded. I also added some new security newsletters that were particularly fun.
I have limited music taste outside of Beyonce, Bad Bunny, and Taylor Swift and it served me well this year. All of their albums were no skips, constant relistens for me. I know I should probably broaden my range but I really am content for right now.
Favorite movies include:
- Everything everywhere all at once **
- Nope *
- Predator **
- Turning Red
Favorite TV shows include:
- The Bear **
- Yellowjackets **
- Andor **
- The Dropout *
- The Rings of Power
- House of the Dragon
- Los Espookys
Favorite live performances include:
- As you like it
- for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf
Favorite newsletters include:
- Maybe Baby
- Platformer with Casey Newton
- Where to Eat NYT
- Unsupervised Learning
- Hive Five by securibee
- this week in security
Favorite albums include:
- Renaissance by Beyonce
- Un Verano sin Ti by Bad Bunny
- Midnights by Taylor Swift
Favorite podcasts include:
- Bending the Elements**
- Darknet Diaries**
- The Daily
- The Ezra Klein Show
- The Ringer**
Favorite products include:
- Zwift and Wahoo trainer and accessories
- My two standing desks and 4 monitors
- Star Wars Legos
- Galaxy S22
- Flipper Zero (!!)
- Ceremonia Papaya Scrub
- A coat hanger
- Nespresso milk frother
- Body glide
- Osprey running hydropak
- Supergoop sunblock stick
This is my first time including this section, but art has always been a huge part of my life, enough so that I recognize that it deserves to be properly featured. What feels particularly special is that some of these exhibits were either featuring friends or artists I’ve grown up long admiring, or gave me exposure to art, history, and techniques I didn’t know a lot about. Examples include, the early work of Van Gogh, the moving of JAM throughout the decades, the precision that master ceramicists have, and the lens the Tate Modern exhibited their work.
- Everything in David Kuraoka’s studio in Kauaii, HI
- Botero Museum in Bogota, Colombia
- RE[SURGE] BFA Integrated Design Thesis at the Aronson Gallery, NYC
- Maps of Desplazamiento at Mara Hoffman, NYC
- Van Gosh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Everything in the Tate Modern in London, England
- Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color and Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art at the Met, NYC
- Sin Autorización: Contemporary Cuban Art exhibit at Columbia University, NYC
- JAM exhibit at the MoMa in NYC
- ‘Evolve’ by Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier at Art Basel in Miami, FL
I want to highlight the court case of Happy, the elephant I read about last year who lost their case on personhood this year, an incredible profile on Octavia Butler and the lasting legacy of her work, and the resurgence in bookstores that is indisputably due to booktok. Overall, I think I’m missing a couple long form articles that rocked me but these were all memorable in different ways:
- THE YEAR I ATE NEW YORK JUNE 6, 2022 200 Restaurants, 100 Tips What our diner-at-large has discovered after five months on the job
- I Treasure the Life I Live in the Subway. And I Am Afraid of Losing It.
- Southern fin whales have recovered to large numbers in the Antarctic
- Some Surprising Good News: Bookstores Are Booming and Becoming More Diverse
- Katya Echazarreta: la historia de la primera mexicana que viajó al espacio
- The Most Fascinating Birds Will Be the First to Go Extinct
- The Necessity of Hope Things are bad. They will get worse. But despair has never been an option.
- Title IX’s Next Frontiers in the Fight for Gender Equality
- The Institutionalist Dianne Feinstein fought for gun control, civil rights, and abortion access for half a century. Where did it all go wrong?
- Four Seasons Total Tech
- We’re Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We’re Going Somewhere Worse
- Why old-growth forests matter
- The Elephant in the Courtroom
- These whales are on the brink. Now comes climate change
- Gen Z does not dream of labor
- NFTs Are a Privacy and Security Nightmare
- RIP ‘Los Espookys,’ illicit lovechild of Pedro Almodóvar and ‘Scooby-Doo’
- She Wasn’t Ready for Children. A Judge Wouldn’t Let Her Have an Abortion.
- The Visions of Octavia Butler
- The Wrenching Moral Calculus of Watching the World Cup Qatar 2022 is rotten to the core, but ignoring the tournament is unrealistic.
- Andor Is What Star Wars Was Meant to Be
- After a Perilous Journey, Migrants Try to Make It in New York City
- This orchestra’s symphony found sweet harmony during Venezuela’s lockdown
- Half the World Has a Clitoris. Why Don’t Doctors Study It?
Honestly, I’m feeling a little ambivalent about 2023. The past year was great but trying so I’m just hoping to keep having fun, be able to sleep better, focus on getting to the next stage of my career, not be complacent when things are relaxed, and to be open to surprises. Keeping it high-level, some of my goals for the next year include:
- Traveling for more races
- Chicago Marathon with a doable PR
- Two more half marathons with some more serious PRs
- Ideally a 70.3 or two and the return to racing Tris
- Reading 50 books again
- If I don’t learn how to surf or scuba this year I swear
- Taking a water color class and continuing to practice French practice
- Prioritizing self care and rest
- Will this be the year that I publish a blog post that’s not just a review?
- Presenting on technical cyber topics in more formal capacities and maybe publishing some research
- Planning a vacation where I do nothing