36 Good Things About 2016

Oof.  Lots of people are talking about how 2016 was one for the record books, and not in a good way. While I tend to agree with this sentiment, last night I felt compelled to take stock of the moments, however small and personal they were, that made it worth it to have lived through another trip around the sun. As it turned out, it wasn't too difficult to find those special times, places, and people.  I decided to catalogue 36 items, because I turned 36 this year. Seemed appropriate. May the coming year be better for all of us.

1. My wonderful friend Armando moved back to the United States, after living abroad in Germany for almost a year. 

2. Beyonce's Superbowl performance

3. I had purposefully avoided watching the movie version of Into the Wild for the better part of a decade, but finally caved this spring. And when I did, this short scene broke it all open for me. I had to gasp for breath. Sometimes the right words have to hit you at just the right moment. And hoo boy, what a moment.

4. I was interviewed about my dad on the ARRVLS podcast. 

5. Chance the Rapper's verse on Ultralight Beam

6. Tarot readings from my friends Vega and Rosey. So dead-on it was spooky. I loved it.

7. A guy I know named Steven texted me on July 29th (about a speech I gave) and it made my whole week, pretty much.  

8. A guy I know named Jerry texted me on November 5th (about a story I wrote) and it made my whole year, pretty much. 

9. We got a ping pong table at work and it's pretty cool. 

10. Jumping on trampolines with Gerald for his birthday. 

11. Eating a cheeseburger on a barstool in the Joshua Tree Saloon while watching baseball highlights. 

12. Vic Mensa's verse on Wolves

13. Jana's wedding reception. All of us in this photo (save for the groom on the far left) went to high school together. Best Class of '98 reunion yet.

14. My seven-year old niece looking at me on Christmas morning and saying, "You're a real artist." 

15. Seeing Beyonce perform at Levi's Stadium with my friends Laura and Geri-Ayn

16. The duck toast at Bar Agricole

17. Dancing with my friend Meg at Top of the Mark

18. I finally watched the final three episodes of Mad Men. I'd been saving it because I didn't want it to be over. Whew, what an ending. 

19. In February I went on a textbook "great first date" with a guy named Luis. Although a relationship didn't form, we became instant friends and remain so to this day, despite the fact that we now live in different hemispheres. 

20. I went to my house in the high desert six times this year. Sometimes with friends, sometimes with family, other times alone. It was perfect every time.  

21. The Cubs won the World Series. Hey, they're not my team, but so what? They deserved it.

22. Splitting a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau with my friend and mentor, Mary, at Chez Maman.  

23. Cancelled my Vogue subscription.  No offense momma Anna and fairy godmother Grace, but it's just not my jam anymore. I've still saved every issue from the past ten years, though. 

24. My 36th birthday party was actually really good. 

25. Lemonade came out in April.

25. Finally got a '13' tattoo on a Friday the 13th. Cross that off the list. 

26. Honestly, I had a very kind and sweet boyfriend for a good chunk of the year. A wonderful person, although in the end we had to part ways.

27. These girls! 

28. It came too late but I broke through my media bubble, which created an unfortunate liberal echo chamber that cocooned me from what eventually happened on election day.  I don't want to live in an "everything's fine" mentality anymore, reading news and op-eds just as long as I agree with the message. I value critical thinking too much.  

29. My Favorite Murder is a podcast and I love it.  

30. I got a new job. It's the best thing ever and I love it. 

31. I'm in a cute new office, too. 

32. Had the pleasure and wonder of being at a doljanchi, the traditional 1st birthday party of a Korean-American baby. 

33. My friend Natalie doesn't have breast cancer anymore.

34. New mobile app that I'm into: Streaks.  A great way to help form small daily habits.

35. New favorite desktop app: Honey. It's free. I feel like an idiot for not getting it sooner. 

36. On a warm Friday night in September down in Joshua Tree, I found myself in a karaoke bar on the side of the highway. I'll never forget the sight of a dozen baby-faced Marines, off base for the evening in their "nice" plaid button down shirts and identical haircuts. I stood onstage in my dirty Levis and sang American Girl and when my song was over, they high-fived me with one hand and held their glasses of beer in the other.  They were so happy to just have that night and be with each other.  When I look back on this year, despite my love and need of solitude, the moments that I most fondly remember were spent with those that mattered. That's the common thread that snakes through all the noise. Not what I expected, but worth taking to heart.