17 Things I Did in 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017 / 8:00 AM


1. I blogged weekly.
This was much more manageable than daily blogging, although still stressful at times. Whether I did this successfully or not is another question though: I wish I hadn't fallen back on doing so many tags or lists, or just relying on a monthly favorites post to be enough for the week. I wanted to write at least one blog post a week with substance, and that proved to be more challenging than I thought when I started the year.

Still, I got a new post up each week, and I'm pretty proud of that. I don't know if I'll continue doing that in 2018 (I know, I should decide soon), but it's helped me realize that I do want to take blogging more seriously.

2. I started a podcast.
...two podcasts, actually! In May, Charles and I launched "Dawson's Speak," and then a few months later, Alamin and I started "Bring It All Back."

To be honest: it's a major challenge to balance these two projects plus a full-time job (that usually takes up more time than just the Monday through Friday grind) and still find time to just kick back with a book or Netflix series, but it's also given me the opportunity to step away from any work stress too. For the couple of hours a week I'm watching Dawson's Creek and recording/editing "Dawson's Speak," I get to escape into a different type of creative project; and chatting with Alamin about TV revivals is such a fun way for me to 1) learn about more shows because I'm seriously behind, I've realized; and 2) talk about something I genuinely do love (TV!).

3. I went to London.


London has always been a bucket list trip, and I was so glad when the opportunity arose this year for the adventure. This Dublin/Amsterdam/London trip was probably one of my favorite travel experiences because it came at a time I really needed it, and I also got to spend it with Kristen, who allowed me to be a total nerd and didn't get annoyed if I didn't want to go to pubs until midnight.

Even with a short time spent in London, I knew immediately it was a place I wanted to go back to someday. It felt like the best parts of New York that I didn't hate anymore, while also opening my eyes to completely new sights, sounds, and history.

4. I wrote articles I really loved.
I've written things I've loved since working professionally as a journalist, but this year might have been some of my favorite of all time.
  • Hollywood has whitewashed Asian stories for decades. This year, they couldn't ignore the backlash. – Every year, I say I'm not going to do the year-ender. But every year, I do it anyways. I've done it for NBC Asian America since the site launched, but the challenge has always been trying to find an angle on diversity/representation that hasn't been done to death. And while you can argue that all of my year-enders are "duh" pieces, I'd like to think I brought something fresh to it based on the interviews. This year's year-ender is not just my favorite year-ender I've done, but probably one of my favorite pieces ever because it truly is a year-ender – not just on the industry, but on the work NBC Asian America did this year too. We incorporated so many of our interviews and reporting we've done all year, and it resulted in something more interesting than "yay representation!" 
  • With 'The Great Wall' Comes Great Challenges as China's Influence in Hollywood Grows – I interviewed Matt Damon, Zhang Yimou, and Pedro Pascal, but that wasn't what this piece was. Because of my LJ background, and if I've done a hard edit with you, you'll know that I'm a fan of "this was the interview, but this isn't the story" writing. I'm not here to write fluff pieces or reviews; I want to take a deeper dive. So rather than making this a profile of three celebrities, I interviewed an academic and fleshed it out with box office numbers and a larger conversation about the industry. (This article probably also has one of my favorite ledes.)
  • Could John Chiang Be California's First Asian-American Governor? – I write about non-entertainment things too! I got to go back to my politics reporting days and dove into the California governor's race. 
  •  Diversity in 'Power Rangers' Reboot Film Brings New Layers to Well-Known Series – If you ever doubted for a second I was an OG Power Rangers fan, then the deep-cut Tommy Oliver reference will answer your question. This was another example of "this was the interview, but this isn't the story" reporting with an interview with Ludi Lin, who played the Black Ranger.
  • 10 Resign from President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – Not only were we the first to report this, we broke it. I spent a lot of time on the reporting on this, and it got picked up that day by several news outlets. That impact reminded me why I was in this job in the first place. 
  • Also, this (specifically this): 


5. I lived less on social media.
This is something I've been more conscious of over the last year or two. When hanging out with people, I've been trying to keep my phone zipped away in my purse or firmly in my pocket, and I've also stopped documenting it all for my Instagram Story or Snapchat. Not that there's anything wrong with doing it, but all of those studies about how social media overuse can lead to feelings of isolation are pretty true – at least, for me. With the exception of big trips (i.e. Europe, Disney World), if you looked at my social medias this year, there weren't many photos or tags of all of what I did on weekends or evenings.

And I've found that not documenting every minute of it didn't mean I enjoyed those hangouts and meals and adventures any less. I don't want to be the kind of person who only does things for the 'gram, or the kind of person who obsesses over who's doing what and with who because those things don't really matter if you're truly friends with someone.

Next year I'll keep working on balancing out what I do and don't post/share more, but this year's small break has been nice.

6. I read more.
I got a Los Angeles Public Library e-Card, and it was the best decision ever. With Overdrive, I've been able to borrow books for my Kindle easily for my morning and evening commutes. It hasn't stopped me from buying books that are still on my "to read" list, and I didn't meet my Goodreads goal, but I have been making time for non-work things (more on that later in this list) and it's been great.

7. I went to Disney World!
We grew up going to Disneyland, but I've only ever seen Disney World in TV shows. Na and I capped off our year of being Disneyland APs by crossing another trip off our bucket list, and it was a fun week – even if we both got sick – that was also really exhausting...and totally worth feeling like my feet were going to fall off. How can you not smile when you're surrounded by all that magic?

Going from park to park was the most time-consuming part, but Na and I can keep ourselves amused for hours of doing nothing, so at least we had each other! I probably owe this blog a full Disney Parks-related post, so maybe that's yet another thing I can put off until 2018 :)

8. I purged my closet.
Moving across the country at the start of the year was a big help in cleaning out my closet, and since I started living in LA again (with no seasons), I've found myself only wearing a few things from my wardrobe. I haven't exactly been building a capsule wardrobe, but I have been trying to buy quality, staple pieces that can be mixed and matched.

9. I lived in LA without driving.
Is it challenging? Yes. But I also don't regret not buying a car when moving here. For everyone asking, yes, I have my license. But am I the worst driver anyone will ever know? Absolutely. I panic easily and daydream often. I would probably be a hazard for everyone on the road, and in LA, you can't be unsure when you're merging onto the freeway.

I'll probably do a post on this in 2018 (this may be a theme to this post: procrastination), but I've been taking public transportation around and relying on Uber/Lyft rides, which has saved me a boatload of money, I'm told. Also, I've met some of the nicest Uber and Lyft drivers, which has helped break me out of my introverted tendencies. My rule of never relying on friends/family for rides has also held up well because I don't want people to find it a burden that I've chosen not to drive, although I know it's probably annoying for people that there's one less competent driver in their group, which I do feel bad about.

10. I went to a Hollywood movie premiere.
This was definitely a bucket list item, no matter what the film was.

11. I said "no" to things.


This sounds like something a person shouldn't be doing, right? You should be saying "yes" to more! However, I have that classic problem of not knowing how to say no. I'm the kind of person who will skip meals to take all of the meetings and do all the favors asked of me.

Last year, after my aunt got sick and then passed, I started to re-prioritize everything in my life. Work no longer became the most important thing in my life. Putting family on hold to fly to events/conventions wasn't an option anymore. The need to disconnect – to separate work and the rest of my life – became more apparent. I'm still struggling to do this because I get guilt very easily, but I also realized I needed to stop putting myself last.

Also, another blog post for 2018, and along the same lines: there are some people who will take advantage of those who have a hard time of saying no. This year, I started standing up for myself. I started not letting things slide when it was my name (and job) on the line. I stopped accepting excuses for people trying to take advantage of me. It might've made me the bad guy to some people who didn't take to my "putting my foot down" well because they thought I was an easy pushover, but I no longer care. Life is too short to let others make you miserable.

12. I cooked.
This one's big for me. I got very lazy near the end of living in New York – part of it was depression, the other part was being lazy – but I was eating very poorly and not cooking at all. This year, I bought cookbooks and went grocery shopping and made time for standing at my stove and doing more than boiling water for ramen.

13. I got better at moderating panels.
It's easier to be a panelist than to moderate a discussion with multiple panelists, and I used to hate moderating panels. But after doing it a lot this year, I've started to find more fun in doing it. My favorite part of journalism has always been the interview because it's just a conversation at the end of the day (and when I'm reporting, especially on features, I always try to make my interviews feel like natural conversations), and that's what moderating a panel basically is.


14. I started learning Italian.
I'm not very good at languages, but I wanted to challenge myself with something new. Since Italy is on the travel bucket list, I figured I'd get a head start and learn this beautiful language. I've been severely slacking on the Duolingo levels lately, but I'll get back to it...in 2018...

15. I (basically) stopped drinking alcohol.
This was a slight personal challenge and also one of the better things I've done in the last few years. If you knew me in college, you probably had an idea of how much I drank. And yes, I know, "it's college." I don't regret those experiences, but I found myself drinking in New York solely out of boredom or depression, which was not a good reason to drink. It was also expensive, and I didn't find myself making meaningful connections with people because the only thing we had in common was the bar.

So I chose to not drink in 2017 – or, at least, to try not to. I wanted to transition back to LA with a clearer perspective (and I wanted to save money) because my personal relationship to alcohol tends to muddle my brain. And I've actually quite enjoyed not drinking, to be honest. Perhaps I never really loved it in the first place. I didn't cut out alcohol entirely because I did drink in small doses at events or with friends, but overall I don't miss it.

The one thing about it that's surprised me the most is how some people treat you when you tell them you're not drinking right now. I've had some friends try and suggest drinks to me that would "help me like it again," or they'll laugh and say I don't have anything in common with people anymore. Or I've had someone tell me they don't know what to invite me to anymore. Which is funny, because it's not like places that serve alcohol serve nothing but alcohol! It's amusing, but also...if not drinking means friends don't want to hang out anymore, then maybe I should rethink those "friendships"...

16. I slept more.


As part of my efforts to re-dedicate my personal time to myself, I vowed to sleep more. And while it's not been perfect every single night, I've found myself getting, on average, between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each night. Which is a huge improvement from the 3 or 4 I was getting last year. Since college, I've just been getting less and less sleep for various reasons, and this year I've been doing the responsible thing and not falling asleep on my couch on accident every night.

17. I watched three seasons of Jane the Virgin in less than two weeks.
And it was the most dramatic two weeks of my life.

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