In the past I’ve sometimes done a summary of the year that was:
- 2011: That Unfortunate but Hopeful Year AND New Hair (and The Best and Worst of 2011)
- 2012 (extremely succinct compared to the last)
- Nothing, though I did write Best of 2013: Favourite Games
- 2014: A brief look at 2014 and a late welcome to 2015
- 2016: none
- 2017: I wrote one earlier than usual (November): 2017 and the moments that were
- 2018: 29 in 2019 (more like a transitional post, but I will just make it count)
- 2019: none. Was too busy dating Dylan 💀
- 2020: I did not blog at all. In the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I was busy living my virtual life in Animal Crossing.
- 2021: also nothing
- 2022: also nothing
2023: this is my chance to revive this old tradition of reflecting about the past year. This has been at the back of my mind since our holiday trip a few weeks ago, but I’ve been enjoying doing nothing. Technically, too busy enjoying life to pause and reflect about anything.
Before I write about 2023, I want to reminisce about the past four years. I should’ve written more but I never did. Instagram had been a lazy way of posting short streams on consciousness and this blog had suffered, no excuses.
What can I say? The year I started dating Dylan. Met his friends. Moved in together. All very quick. Amazed that it wasn’t a temporary fling. Introduced him to my mum and aunt when they visited (and stayed with us). Hosted Dylan’s friends at our apartment in Prahran.
We can’t be any more opposite than who we are now but it seems like we are textbook examples for “opposites-attract”. Thanks to that, I started to be less reluctant stepping outside my comfort zone. I would’ve been scared riding roller coasters that year but with Dylan I was brave enough to try.
Not quite in the photos: I did survive a round of lay-offs at work (it was my second time so I was more unfazed. Life experiences do make you more level-headed in times of crises). Towards the end of 2019, my employer seemed to be thriving again — but we now all know there was a global pandemic brewing.
I guess you can say that in 2019 the best thing that had happened to me was Dylan.
Met Dylan’s mum for the first time, who consequently got stuck with us longer than expected due to closed borders thanks to COVID-19. This was also the year when I went back heavily into gaming: Animal Crossing and Guild Wars 2.
I was so obsessed with Animal Crossing, I got a skin for my Switch:
Life is always a little better because of Dylan. Animal Crossing was more fun because Dylan enjoyed farming the villagers and we trafficked them via Discord, selling them to the highest bidder. This funded my obsession designing islands, so I took over designing not just mine but also his. I started cooking more often and as it became more regular, following recipes became less daunting and mixing whatever’s in the pantry into something enjoyable to eat became easier. Being stuck at home together 24/7 (legally required to due to mandated lockdowns in Melbourne) probably fast-tracked wherever we were in the point of our relationship.
COVID-19 lockdowns also showed me it was possible for both of us to have a monthly spending bill of under a thousand dollars (which has now more than tripled).
I also survived the second round of lay-offs at work thanks to the global shift caused by the pandemic. Even worse, I got a significantly painful pay cut because of it. I survived the hits as they came because at the end of the day I was confident I’ll just do what I have to do to live.
As I always did.
Twenty twenty-one was a year for new norms and the pandemic still wasn’t over. I could feel the world still adjusting, making room for flash lockdowns and restrictions. Things were a little bit more hopeful (we can rebuild, we can achieve success again, we can find something new, we can find something better). Inside Australia, Dylan and I continued traveling occasionally (hi Sydney! Bye Sydney!) but most of all, I decided it’s worth spending a small fortune in getting a puppy.
Hundred percent sure that parents will scoff at this, but I do feel like we got a teeny bit of taste of what it was like to have a baby. Fifty times easier but it kicked off conversations about splitting chores at home, puppy school, vet visits, play dates, socialization, additional dog training… Our first “fur-baby” had an equivalent personality to someone with attention deficiency and was needy for companionship at the park so we decided to get another. If we put in that much effort with our puppies, I could only imagine the time sacrificed to raise actual humans. But hey, we did it!
This was also the year I was able to make friends by myself: dog mums I met at the park, the arranged play dates, the yorkie Facebook groups, the doggie parties. It opened a world of millennials substituting parenthood with pawrenthood. This was the only setting where I didn’t mind talking to strangers without anxiety; small talk about pups came easy and I met more people in 2021 than I had since I’ve moved to Melbourne.
Made new friendships, ended friendships, realised I could also enjoy camping and playing outdoors with the right set of people.
Big stuff: travelled overseas together with Dylan for the first time with no dramas. We met each other’s families for the first time, too.
Our travels back to Malaysia and the Philippines deserve their own posts (next time!) but the trip evoked the old feelings I had for Manila, highlighting the continuous downward spiral of the country that I’ve always ranted about in my twenties. A city where hope dies, corruption wins, suffering prospers and yet still home for family and friends who continue to live with joy, love, and friendly laughter. And try as I might to convince the people I love to find “home” overseas, I can’t “save” everyone. :(
Ended the year engaged (!!!) and in spite of the uncertainty (still no PR; lodged and waiting), I’ve unknowingly already started building life here. It’s a mix of stress bubbling at the back of my head but Dylan was an anchor of reassurance that even if things didn’t work out as we’d hoped, we’ll make do as always.
So far so good, life has been okay.
The past twelve months have been BIG and I’ve written about some of them in detail this year. Getting a license, permanent residency, the house, wedding planning, a trip to Shanghai. New friends, new hobbies, new adventures. Enjoying even more cooking for Dylan, barbecues with friends in the suburbs, destressing through cleaning and home chores, furnishing the new house, working from home with two small dogs, movie nights at the cinema with friends — life has been simple and domesticated but brings a quiet joy in me.
- Building flat-pack furniture is so satisfying. Somewhere in the middle I’d entertain the idea of maybe doing a woodworking workshop, but that lasts for a grand total of three seconds before I admit it’s a terrible idea.
- The house feels messy and cluttered even when most of our bedrooms are uninhabited, hah.
- I’m only paying the bank back about $500/month in principal thanks to interest rates, but I have made peace with that.
- Some days I wonder what to do to grow ourselves into a $400k/year household, but I also tell myself I don’t want to be like my mum who overworked herself and was barely home.
- Cooking, making desserts and shakes could be my love language.
- Good weather days should always be a “go outdoor” day.
- Most people I know hate staying far from the city but I love it. I love how much closer we are to regional towns, especially beachside.
- Trips to the city are trips to DAISO.
- I love shopping for home-stuff at Kmart. Always small things I didn’t realise I needed but now I want them.
- We have friends in suburbs in opposite directions. I wish we had more friends nearer our suburb.
- Home barbecues are really fun; I love it; I would be happy to host more of it.
- I chat about Chinese dramas with my high school best friend and I love it.
- I would consider a pay cut with more off-days. Dylan and I should be travelling more. Especially before we have kids.
- I should pass my driving test before the wedding.
Things are good but at the same time I could feel and see how much I’ve aged. 10kg heavier than I was ten years ago; my skin healing slower, my face looking older. Being okay with it, accepting it, being chill about it, doing some things about it. Enjoying who I am now, keeping things that I enjoy.
But maybe I do need to drink more water and maybe add exercise to my weekly list of chores.
So for 2024, I’m determined to dedicate more time for self-care and self-love. Be less concerned about not saving as much as I could be, especially since we’re in a comfortable spot even with a mortgage and the wedding. Spend more regularly for facials and skincare. Go on more holidays. Keep good eating habits. Spend wisely on life experiences. See more musicals. Be more generous towards friends. Be more generous overall. I’ve been a shitty friend in the past but I’ve been working on it and feel like I’ve done better this year. I want to share the luck and the good vibes and generosity and help we’ve received from friends to other friends.
I’m feeling good about 2024.
Maybe I’m just getting used to it but we’ll be okay this year too, I’m sure of it.