How I Spent My Year 2021

My 2021 was about Covid. I can't sum it up any more succinctly than that. I feel like I didn't grow at all…but of course, this is one year I will remember for the rest of my life.

For the 19th straight year, here is my annual run down of how I spent my year 2021.

1. Happier or Sadder?

Not happy. Not sad. I'm just...going through the motions of life...which is not a good thing.

2. What did you do this year that you've never done before?

  • Shrooms — Unfortunately, all it did was heat up my body and prevented me from sleeping though…
  • Crypto — (More on this later)

3. How has your personal fashion evolved this year?

For the most part, same as last year:

For work-at-home life, it was all about basketball jerseys, sleeping shorts, sweats, and hoodies.

For the few times I'd go out for food and groceries, I started wearing more "sport utility" things, like technical cargo pants and the new Municipal brand.

  • Workout Hoodies — The only addition I'd make is I bought a bunch of thin workout hoodies which are perfect for sunny or chilly days when I take Kogi out for a walk.
  • Hiking Clothes — Specifically, for a brief stint, I discovered the beauty of hiking shirts and cooling bucket hats.
  • Lounge Slippers — My god, why did I waste so many years cringing at lounging slippers…these are PERFECT for winter! Wear them with socks and it's a perfectly blend of warmth and breathability.

4. What places did you visit?

  • Phoenix — I finally got a chance to drive out there and check out real estate! I definitely found some parts of PHX that I would love to buy a house. And I was extremely surprised by the foodie scene out there too! My PHX plans are on hold indefinitely, but I could see myself living there one day.
  • NYC — Felt so good to reunite with BTVfam again!

5. How did you celebrate your birthday?

Discord parties with surprise food deliveries and Among Us!

6. Where did most of your money go?

  • Food — literally the only thing exciting part of my day during Covid-life is going out for food…and I really need to slow it down because inflation and post-Covid supply chain issues have made restaurants $$$.
  • Fundrise — (more on this later)
  • Crypto — (more on this below)

7. What was the best thing you bought?

  • AirFlex+ Jeans from American Eagle! Most of my beloved (and super expensive) Diesel JoggJeans are no longer wearable but thankfully, I discovered AirFlex+ Jeans that are a 10x cheaper!
  • Workout hoodies from Under Armor which are perfect for sunny or breezy days when I'm taking Kogi out on a walk.
  • Capital One Venture X — This isn't a "purchase" but I'm so happy to pair this with my Chase Sapphire to restock on travel points.

8. What was your best musical discovery in 2021?

Cathy shared "Energy Radio KSA" which is the streaming radio stations of Aramco! I love the U.K. music vibes like the ones I grew up with.

9. What was your best food discovery in 2021?

  • Naranja Mulita at Kogi BBQ! It's basically a custom order I started to get, which is a Blue Moon Mulita, no Azul sauce, add Naranja.
  • Cuban Sandwich at Cafe Cabana in New York!
  • Joe's Pizza in New York! Officially my new default pie whenever I go back.

10. What songs will always remind you of 2021?

  • Leave the Door Open by Bruno Mars will forever remind me of our NYC reunion.

11. What TV shows did you follow this year?

Shows I'm Loving:

  • Loki — It blows me away how one small loose end in Endgame can explode into something infinitely larger.
  • WandaVision
  • Marvel's What If? — This is a brilliant way to test out story arcs and character variants. I could see some of these ideas being folded back into the main MCU timeline.
  • See on Apple TV+
  • Invasion on Apple TV+
  • The Walking Dead

Loosely following:

  • Ghost Adventures
  • Fear The Walking Dead
  • The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals

12. What were your most favorite movies this year?

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home — this is movie is a love letter to Spider-Man fans. Every major criticism on Tom Holland's Spider-Man is addressed and opens an exciting future for the character.
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — not only is did this movie get my blood pumping, but Shang-Chi is huge for the Asian-American community.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong — this gives a much better ending compared to its original counterpart.

13. Who were your celebrity crushes?

  • Megan Batoon
  • Taya Miller
  • Elizabeth Olsen on WandaVision
  • Sophia di Martino on Loki

14. Who did you miss?

Same as last year:

Salsa Fam — I miss going to class and having those little interactions with everyone there.

15. Did anyone close to you pass away? Any notable celebrity deaths?

  • Uncle Richard M.
  • Cherif
  • Uncle Joe

16. What political issues really stirred you?

  • Anti-Maskers
  • Anti-Vaxxers
  • Supporters of the January 6th Insurrection
  • Politicians promoting The Big Lie — By blatantly pushing this bullshit lie, they've slowly coordinated a coup by replacing all the key positions they need to be able to overturn future free-and-fair elections.

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

  • Vaccinations — It felt so freakin' good to be able to go out again, especially to restaurants and movie theaters. Delta and Omicron closed things up a bit again but overall this is a much better situation than 2020.

18. Did you develop any new hobbies or passions?

  • Crypto — This past year I've gotten so passionately curious about crypto/Web3. Since I've built up a nice little financial nest egg, I decided to throw $5K here and there into crypto so I could get some real world experience with it.

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

  • Less Multi-Tasking — I've long known that when I have too much free time on my hands, I tend to look for random shit to spend money on. I realized that if I stopped multi-tasking while I watch TV/movies, I'll spend less time online shopping and more time immersing myself in the story.

20. Describe a typical day for you in 2021

Work-from-home life! Wake up 6:20ish. Catch up on tech Twitter & RSS feeds. Work from 7:15ish to 11ish with Discord fam and plenty of breaks in between. Lunch and 20-minute nap. Work until 3:00ish. Watch TikTok/YouTube while walking Kogi, take shower, play PlayStation for an hour-ish. Take a nap or browse some TikTok in bed for an hour, then some more work while I semi-pay attention to the TV/Netflix/HBO Max.

Play with Kogi or browse TikTok while Kogi licks my head until I fall asleep around 11ish.

21. What was your most memorable moment this year?

Deep talks with BTVfam in NYC. As much as I am struggling with my own shit, it's crazy to hear the deep struggles that friends are secretly going through at the same time.

22. What was your biggest failure?

  • The UCSC Project — this was supposed to be my crown jewel project for the year — and it even got me a very nice raise — but the UCSC scrapped the project after the handoff. I don't think all the blame is on me, but it was definitely humbling and there are definitely some things I can improve on.
  • Cataract — My cataract has gotten worse…I've been getting headaches on the regular basis and I'm starting to think it's from this…
  • Kogi's Teeth — Early this year I had to pull the trigger on the extraction of FIVE of Kogi's teeth! I'm so sorry, buddy… 😭

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

People who are:

  • Inauthentic — Dude, we see through all your white lies. You say all this shit because you think that's what we want to hear...but actions speak louder than words and you consistently prove that you're full of shit.
  • Not Self-Aware — Dude, you're in your thirties and you still think that all bad things that happen to you are because of other people? There's a term for people who keep making the same mistakes while expecting a different result — crazy.
  • Financially Irresponsible — Dude, what are you going to do when your parents pass away? Who is going to pay for all your shit? Who is going to pay for the house? Your car? Put food on the table? Do you really think you'll be find a woman when they're going to have to carry your ass financially?

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

  • Investing — As the year went by, I could feel my PHX goal slipping away. Thankfully I felt reinvigorated towards the end of the year with things like Fundrise and Crypto.
  • Web3 — It is fascinated and humbling to see how even my favorite thought leaders in my industry are susceptible to narrow-sighted zero-sum "If Web3 doesn't completely destroy Web2, then Web3 is a failure" mentality.
  • How exhausted I am with work…
  • Hot annoyed I am at inauthentic and immature people…

Honestly, most of the year I was just in a rut and I wasted a lot of time being irritated than I'd like to admit.

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

Everyone needs these six types of healthy hobbies: knowledge, financial, body, mental, social, and creative. I think for me, it breaks down like this:

  • Knowledge — keeping up-to-date with all of my interests via RSS and Twitter.
  • Financial — continuing to invest in Fundrise and diversifying with Crypto.
  • Body — taking Kogi out for walks every day and (someday) going back to Salsa classes.
  • Mental — Travel. I need this back in my life. I need having this light at the end of the tunnel when work becomes draining.
  • Social — hanging out on Discord and (someday) going back to Salsa classes.
  • Creative — for a long time, I felt like Twitter and Instagram were my creative outlets. This has not been true for like five years now…as much as I miss it, I can't see a way for me to get back to this. I need to figure out something to stimulate my creativity again.

26. What was the most impactful decision you made in 2021?

I decided to hold off on my PHX real estate goal and in the meantime, start investing in other things, specifically Fundrise and crypto.

27. How did your New Years Resolutions hold up? Any new resolutions for 2022?

Last year I wrote:

This year I need to make my Arizona plans come true.

Nope, my PHX plans are on hold indefinitely.

This year, I'm going to practice daily gratitudes. I've spent way too much time this past year being irritated and annoyed at everyone around me; it's gotten so bad, it's affected my mood when I'm actually hanging out with people. I will change that this year.

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

  • Traveling — I realized that if I don't have something big to look forward to, it makes the daily work grind feel endless and miserable. I need to have that light at the end of the tunnel. I need to have those months when I can research everything I could possibly do and have a reason to be excited.

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

Hey Mel 2021,

There is LIGHT at the end of the tunnel! Not quite out of the woods just yet, but there will be less picking up food and eating in your car this year, lol.

Enjoy the big and small screen this year! It's been EPIC and keeps getting better, you don't even know!

Work will be more stressful than usual. Keep grinding.

—Mel, January 2022

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

Dear Future Mel,

How's work going? I'm all sorts of burnt out right now. I got a slightly extra more time off these past few weeks because of Uncle Joe's funeral and sick days off for Covid…which I guess you can say is "nice"? Is everything better on your end?

What's the situation with the whole Web3 thing? Is the industry buying into it more or are all the critics right??

Are we in a bear market? Or a recession??

I'm promising myself that this year, instead of working at night, I will grind out the final hour of the work day so I can completely close up shop for the day. How did that help with your burn out??

And I guess the biggest question for you — did we go back to Japan at all this year??

—Mel, January 2022