How I Spent My Year 2017

In 2016, my mantra was "fail more." It was the next step above "little acts of courage" in that it expects that I constantly push my own boundaries and constantly fail. But instead of getting discouraged, I should feel proud for the opportunity to learn something new about myself. And every once in a while, when I expect to fail…the universe occasionally surprises me in wondrous ways.

2017 was a bit more of a year of getting comfortable and settling into the adventures I started in 2016. Other than Hawaii and my first dance performance, this past year was a pretty laid back one, in many ways. For the 15th straight year, here is my annual run down of how I spent my year 2017.

1. Happier or Sadder?

Happy but a notch and a half lower than last year. (More on that later.)

2. What places did you visit?

  • Houston for Josh & Ashleigh's wedding.
  • Hawaii reunion with the Saudi crew.

Not much traveling for me this year but Hawaii has been on my bucket list for the longest time!

3. What TV shows did you follow this year?

Three shows I follow religiously:

  • Westworld — I really don't care for westerns but this show is soo much more! It's like a Black Mirror episode that totally worthy of it's own series.
  • The Walking Dead — The character development of all the major characters is bar none.
  • The Curse of Oak Island — I'm so convinced that these guys will uncover the treasure and it'll be one of the greatest archeological finds in history.

Finally caught up and can't wait for the next season:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Black Mirror
  • Silicon Valley

Barely following:

  • Fear The Walking Dead

4. What were your most favorite movies this year?

  • Wonder Woman — SO GOOD. In 2017, it is everything the world needs in a role model.

  • Logan — I'm not a particular fan of classic westerns but this movie was the perfect way to end Hugh Jackman's 17 year tenure(!!!!) as Wolverine.

  • Moana — I know, I was really late on this one but it made me remember how magical Disney movies are.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Last Jedi
  • Passengers.

5. What was your best food discovery in 2017?

Da Mouth Grindz in Hawaii!

And also, all the countless flavors of macadamia nuts! Especially Cookies & Cream.

6. What songs will always remind you of 2017?

The Moana soundtrack. Because A) the movie was magical, B) I finally crossed Hawaii off my bucket list, and C) I got a DNA test proving that I have Polynesian in my blood.

My Samsung Galaxy Note 8 video:

Pictures of me and my love:

My first time skydiving:

My first dance performance:

8. How has your personal fashion evolved this year?

Building on last year, I've been buying a lot more Uniqlo because they nail the basics and are easy on the wallet.

Also, Lululemon ABC pants have become a staple for me during spring and summer — especially at work — when my Jogg Jeans run me too warm.

In anticipation of my upcoming Japan trip — my first solo adventure — I've spent a lot of time & money researching how to travel with just one backpack. All of that has really emphasized my minimalist "capsule wardrobe" and the wonders of merino wool.

  • #AnimojiKaraoke — Such a fun and novel way to see people enjoying their new iPhone X.

  • #NoMuslimBan — Brought tears to my eyes how many people in how many cities pulled together to show Trump that we are America, we are all immigrants who built this country to greatness, and we will not let his shit stop us.

10. What political issues really stirred you?

President-Elect Donald Trump. I absolutely hate how a symbol of racism and bigotry was voted to lead the country…

I know a lot of parents and older adults — many whom I love and respect — who voted for Trump simply because they will vote for anyone Republican and/or solely rely on Fox News for "news". I can understand that and won't judge it.

But what really hurts is seeing friends calling us "whining cry babies" for being "overdramatic" about racism…

Trump is the epitome of white privilege. He's teaching the world that if you're famous, have a lot of money, in a position of power, and keep yelling over everyone else…you can get away with anything.

I cannot fucking stand it.

11. Who were your celebrity crushes?

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.

Honorable Mention: Jessica Henwick in Iron Fist.

12. Where did most of your money go?

  • Airbnb — I've never gotten an Airbnb for myself and I'm particularly excited to find some gems in Tokyo and Kyoto!

  • Expensive Pants — Once I bought my first pair of Diesel Jogg Jean, I bought two more pairs. Josh also got me hooked on Lululemon ABC Pants for work!

  • Apple — Of course. To be specific, I bought an iPad Pro 12.9", Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular, and an iPhone X.

13. Did you drop any old habits or pick up new habits this year?

I've learned to stop agreeing to do websites for friends and colleagues on the side.

I've known for the longest time that I tend to be super enthusiastic about starting things, but the minute the maintenance starts to feel like work, I just flake out on the project.

It's not fair to my friends/colleagues and it's not fair to me to keep doing something when my heart's no longer in it. So I stopped.

14. Describe a typical day for you in 2017

Wake up 6:20ish. Catch up on tech news. Out the door by 6:45. Work from 7:45 to 11:15ish. Quick lunch and nap in car lol. Work until 4:40ish.

Depending on the day of the week, when I get off work it's either Zumba in Lakewood, Zumba in Huntington, or Salsa Class in OC.

Once I get home, catch up on tech news and social media. Play with Kogi or browse Imgur while Kogi licks my head until I fall asleep before midnight.

15. What do you wish you've done more or less of?

I wish I was better at saying "just a little" when it came to free food.

16. What was the best thing you built or created?

I revamped the backend up my blog so it would run off a JSON feed and AJAX. It made this site work SUPER fast and this is a valuable skill to learn as a front-end web developer.

17. What kept you sane? What gave you hope?

In 2016, I said the gym was my happy place. This past year, my motivation at the gym went down a few notches. Part of it was my favorite Zumba instructor moving to Arizona. But even before that, I wasn't so enthusiastic about going to the gym like before.

This past year, Salsa Class was definitely my happy place. I love the people in my class. After one year of classes, I'm still not confident on the dance floor but I truly love the process of going to class and learning with friends.

18. Who were you most proud of this year?

Joy graduating law school!

19. Without naming names, who disappointed you the most and what did they do?

I found out that someone I know has been unfaithful, on multiple occasions...It's crazy cuz I want to be supportive of both of them as a couple but both of them deserve to be happy as individuals as well.

20. Which new person(s) in your life are you grateful for?

Valerie, Lou, Colienne & Danny. <3

21. How did your New Years Resolutions hold up? Any new resolutions for 2017?

Last year I wrote:

For this upcoming year, my new years resolution is to make better first impressions. I'm a very introverted guy with a bit of social anxiety so it takes a lot for me to make small talk with strangers and acquaintances (especially when the conversation doesn't involve food, lol). I want to get better at making good handshakes, making good eye contact, introducing myself, introducing others, remembering and repeating names. I know it sounds simple and should be something that everyone has mastered...but this is actually a really tough one for me.

I can't say that I truly stuck with my resolution throughout the year; I'm still super awkward when I second guess the names of people I've met.

This upcoming year will be big for my "fail more" mantra because Japan will be my first ever solo adventure. But as far as resolutions this year:

  • More Salsa Dancing — I want to take more risks with my salsa dancing and actually get my ass out on the dance floor on salsa nights.

  • Retirement Fund — I need to take some actions that will better prepare me financially for the future.

22. What's been on your mind this year?

Traveling Solo. For the first time in 7 years, I have paid time off again. I'm crazy jealous of all my friends who travel multiple times a year, especially when I see friends posting about Japan (#1 on my bucket list).

I realized that as a bachelor in my 30s, I have the opportunity to do things that my married friends can't do anymore. Particularly, travel wherever the fuck I want.

As part of my "Fail More" mantra, I decided to buy tickets for Japan this upcoming spring! All of my purchases this year have been in preparation for it: my North Face rain jacket, sneaker boots for the rain, long john undies, my iPad Pro, two backpacks, merino wool socks & shirts, and a few other small things.

I've also been watching a ton of YouTube travel vlogs about Japan to come up with a laundry list of everything I want to do there.

This March, it finally happens!

23. What valuable life lessons did you learn this year?

  • Travel Rewards Cards — OMFG, not signing up for a travel rewards card YEARS ago is one of my biggest financial mistakes of my life! I was always jealous of my friends — especially my nursing friends — over how much traveling they get to do. I was never able to make that work financially until I got my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

  • Learn how to be just friends with girls I have feelings for. It wasn't until I read this thoughtful piece that I realized the source of one of my biggest insecurities.

  • Minimal Wardrobe — Having a wardrobe based on neutral colors and versatile pieces means everything can be mixed-and-matched, which means packing for travel is so incredibly easy!

24. What was the most impactful decision you made in 2017?

In the spirit of "fail more", I got off keto this past year because I wanted to see what I could get away with. I was able to maintain my weight at +7 lbs for most of the year, but during the holidays, I went off the rails and shot up to +19.

It was a valuable learning experience for me to better understand my body's limits. But I'm happily back on keto to find a happier medium.

25. What is the one thing you are most grateful for from this past year?

My job. I truly love what I do. The job ain't perfect by any means, and there are some things that frustrate me, but overall I'm grateful for my project managers who do all the client-facing stuff so I can spend my day coding.

26. What was your biggest achievement this year?

  • Skydiving in Hawaii! I've had that on my bucket list for the longest time.
  • My first dance performance! I kinda got tricked into doing it but I'm so glad I did it.

27. What was your most humbling experience this year?

Going out salsa dancing. I think I only did it a couple times total this past year? But it's crazy how when I step out on the dance floor, an entire year's worth of dance moves I've learned in class just go out the window. I feel pretty confident in class but when I don't have the slow practice music playing or John calling out the dance moves, I'm quickly reminded how unsure of myself I can get.

28. What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?

Progress with my love life.

29. If you could tell your past self something exactly one year ago, what would it be?

Hey Past Mel,

You're still in your journey with Zumba and Keto (including "carb cycling"). There will be a low point...but that's okay because ultimately, you are testing your body's limits to see what you're capable of.

Work is going great. For the most part, you go home regularly feeling accomplished and productive. It is seasonal though so there will be a couple months when shit gets a little much. You will also see a LOT of changes among your coworkers.

Oh, by the way, keep ignoring the drama and gossip. Life is so much better when you can shrug that shit off.

This year, you'll find yourself questioning if you should keep doing what you're doing. Remember, it's okay to say "no" when you're heart is no longer in it.

Ultimately, this year won't be as big of a "fail more" year as 2016...but life is seasonal and you'll cherish these moments of learning.

Enjoy the ride!

—Mel, January 2018

30. What are you looking forward to this upcoming year?

Japan! It's been the #1 thing on my bucket list for my entire life. To be specific, the things I want to experience are:

  • living in small, modern Japanese apartment in the city.
  • staying in a capsule hotel.
  • staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan inn.
  • bathing in a natural warm springs onsen.
  • backpacking solo in a foreign country.

I've always been appreciative of minimalist living (even though I'm kind of a hoarder in certain ways) so I want to experience living in a minimalist environment.

I won't be able to stay at a traditional ryokan inn this coming March/April, but I'm loosely planning on going back in November so I can book well in advance.

31. If you could ask your future self anything one year from now, what would it be?

Hey Future Mel,

How was Japan?? Was it everything you ever dreamed of? How was it dealing with the language barrier over there?? Would you ever seriously consider moving there? Do you think you could handle a more minimalist lifestyle?

How's work going? Are you still feeling productive and satisfied every day you leave the office? The dev team right now is limited to Abel, Shawn (who just had a baby), me, Little Kevin (soon to be full-time after he graduates), and Andrew. Did anyone leave? Did any of the processes get better?

Are you in a better position financially for retirement??

Did you take up Michael's offer to move to Seattle if he bought a condo??

Overall, other than my Hawaii trip, I feel like this year has been mostly of comfort and settling down from 2016's "fail more". I'm pretty content right now, but I still have plenty to do to get my life straight. I hope by the time you read this, you're on a clearer path!

—Mel, January 2017