Hello / Bonjour / 你好!

2022 is upon us, and I still can’t believe that another year has passed. I’d never given it much thought as a child, but what my older peers had told me was true: time does seem to speed up as you get older! Not only can I hardly believe that we’re in a new year, but I also can’t believe that I’m nearing the end of my twenties! I feel more excitement than dread at this realization, as I know that I’m still young and have a long life ahead of me…

Any case, I digress. I already mentioned this during my recent “Life Update” post a month ago, but overall, 2021 was a very-calm year for me. To the point that it was somewhat a bit boring. But after going through the mess that 2020 was, from COVID-19 to unemployment to BLM to the US Elections, I greatly welcomed the peace that 2021 brought in. I spent the whole year pretty much working, and I passed my probationary period, which means I’m now set for life at my job (if I want to). My job is the typical 9-5, Monday through Friday, and honestly, this is exactly what I need as my career– predictability and stability.

2021 was also the year for more travel: as the country (later the world) slowly got people vaccinated, lockdown restrictions were soon lifted and it seems now that, at least in the Western world, things are more-or-less back to normal. Again, I have conflicting feelings about this: even though I’m fully-vaccinated (and boosted), even though I have gone out with friends/dined at restaurants, and even though I did travel a bit this past year, there still remains this anxiety of doing certain activities that I used to do pre-pandemic. For one thing, I don’t think I’ll ever return to a club or concert (or wait YEARS to do so), and I find wearing my mask to be the norm now, whenever I go out. And I think I’m okay with that.

…but back to travel. Yes, I did a bit of traveling in 2021, mostly to other counties in southern California (Orange, Riverside, San Diego…). They were quick trips, but much-needed after over a year of remaining more-or-less in the same place. I also did a ton of hikes in Los Angeles: I still am a novice hiker, but a better one at that! And I got to flex my travel muscles once again with a week-long road trip outside of California, to the neighboring US states (Arizona, Nevada, Utah), which was the highlight of my year. No international travels for 2021, but that’s okay– I wasn’t comfortable with going anywhere too far, and I still don’t think I’ll be comfortable stepping on a plane until sometime this year– in fact, I’ve already booked to go somewhere overseas later in 2022, so we’ll have to see if it happens!

Before I ramble any further, I’ll go ahead and present my month-by-month breakdown of 2021. Thanks for sticking with me, and thank you for your support!

2021: My Year in Review

January

January went by rather uneventfully– I didn’t really do any hikes or trips, and I just worked and stayed at home. Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th US President, which came surprisingly peacefully after the Capitol Attack debacle just earlier that month. My sister also moved out, so it was a matter of helping her move, getting settled in, and seeing what there was to do in town.

20210129_085215Rainbow after a rainy day

February

I call February the “Hike Month,” as I did not one, but three hikes in that short month. Started off with a hike along coastal Rancho Palos Verdes and moved on to a lesser-known trail in Whittier in east Los Angeles. I ended the month with a hike at Griffith Observatory, with some of the most-pristine views of downtown LA and the city’s surroundings. It was really great to get outdoors and get some sunshine!

20210228_090453Griffith Hike with views of Griffith Observatory and downtown LA

March

Things were beginning to look up, considering that we were still in a pandemic when 2021 started. Vaccines were rolling out in the US, and I qualified for Phase II through work to get my first dose at the end of the month, just a few days after my 28th birthday. My birthday happened to fall on a three-day weekend, so I spent that free time out on a quick trip to the Carlsbad Flower Fields in San Diego County. Beautiful flowers, beautiful time.

20210329_093325Carlsbad Flower Fields

April

Spring was kicking in, which meant getting outdoors even more. I did a hike to Altadena in northeast Los Angeles, and despite the foggy views of the city at the hike’s end, it was still a worthwhile workout. I otherwise continued to try new eats (to-go) on the weekends, including Filipino, Korean, and Hawaiian– all delicious. Also got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of the month, so I was fully vaccinated!

20210411_073357Altadena hike early in the morning

May

May was a bit of a busy month, particularly during the second half. I went on a day trip to Malibu, and it was a lovely time. May was also the first month since the pandemic that I hung out with a friend in-person, and we did a hike in Rancho Palos Verdes before grabbing lunch at a restaurant (also a first for me since the pandemic). Spent Memorial Day weekend with a quick trip to San Diego, which I hadn’t visited in over 20 years, but it was a great break outside of home.

20210530_093600Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla (near San Diego)

June

I consider June the “Friend Month,” as I hung out with my friends a lot. I even got to see my close friends (since elementary school) twice— the first at lunch in town and then at the beach later in the month. We hadn’t seen each other since February 2020, although we did keep up via Zoom and Discord calls throughout last year. I also got lunch with a colleague-friend at the end of June, and overall, the month was all about catching up and getting to see each other in person again. Besides seeing my friends, I also did another hike, this time in Monrovia, in east Los Angeles. It was a warm day, but the views were absolutely pristine– not a cloud in the sky!

20210613_075830Hike in Monrovia

July

I was a month away from passing my one-year probation, yet I was already beginning to get burnt out from work. I needed a break and, besides completely a challenging hike to the Hollywood Sign earlier that month (and a day trip to a Lavender Festival in Riverside County), I also took four days off to head to Temecula to visit a friend, go wine tasting, and otherwise relax. It was much-needed, and I returned to work that following Monday rejuvenated. July was a great month for that opportunity!

20210722_165539Temecula City Hall

August

Finally, I passed probation! It was a long year of hard work, but I was so glad to finally complete it. I put in my vacation days for October as soon as I hit my one-year mark, and I celebrated it with my family at a nice dinner out that following weekend. Also got to see another of my friends for lunch and drinks, as it’d been since February 2020 we hadn’t met up. Overall, August was a sigh of relief– for now being employed for life and enjoying good company as the pandemic slowly continued to ease up.

20210828_181742Rainbow xiaolongbao for my celebratory dinner

September

I found September to be somewhat of a slow month– mostly just work and rest. However, I did attend a wedding, which was fun, as I hadn’t attended one since I was a kid. I also got a haircut, and I continued trying restaurants in the Los Angeles area (this time tsukemen ramen and spam musubi). But September was also a month of anticipation, as I would be traveling once again in the following month…

20210905_150136Wedding feast

October

After over two years of no travel, I got to go on my first big trip in October. It was a week-long, domestic road trip with my dad to the states of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. We drove over 1500 miles/2400 kilometers and did a lot of hiking in the natural parks of Sedona, Zion, and Bryce. I also revisited Las Vegas after over 10 years, and it hasn’t changed one bit. It was a short, but much-needed trip, and I was so happy– it’s the big trips like these which remind you of your love for travel, and I returned home knowing that I will be doing more of these again– very soon.

I also got my COVID-19 booster shot and went out with my sister to try some good eats, like Korean corn dog and matcha ice cream (one of the best I’ve had since Japan)!

20211011_111524Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

November

November was what I’d call the “Baking Month.” Stayed home and baked a ton of desserts over the weekends and the days I had off during Thanksgiving Break. From pumpkin spice cookies to mini-pecan pies, I experimented with a ton of recipes and gave the goods away to family, friends, and coworkers. It was fun getting back into one of my hobbies, all the while feeding those I love around me! 😛

20211111_132616Pumpkin spice scones with maple glaze

December

The last month of 2021 was the “Brunch Month,” as I got brunch on three separate occasions with my friends. Lots of delicious drinks, hearty food, and fun times all around. With these brunches was I also able to explore more of my backyard in Los Angeles, including Manhattan Beach. I rang in the New Year at my sister’s home (and friends online), thus concluding the 2021 year.

20211205_122547Sunny day in Manhattan Beach

…and there you have it! That’s my 2021 to you. Overall, it was similar to 2020, but this time, I’m fully-employed and fully-vaccinated. Less anxiety around the pandemic, and more excitement about the world opening up to travel again. I still remain cautious, but now I can relax a bit and actually enjoy myself, with my friends, family, and loved ones. Things still are tentative in the world (*ahem, Omicron), but I have hope that things will continue to look up and that maybe– just maybe– I can still travel internationally later this year. I’m excited for what 2022 will bring, and I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way!

How was your 2021? Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful new year!

— Rebecca

49 thoughts on “2021: My Year in Review

  1. I find it interesting that you took a “challenging hike to the Hollywood Sign” in July. In my advanced English conversation courses for adults here in Frankfurt (pre-corona) I sometimes used the song “Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign” by Dory Previn (do you know the song?) for listening comprehension and discussion. I had the students compare it to the sonnet by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty in New York. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” becomes “Give me your poor, your tired, your pimps, your carhops, your cowboys, your midgets, your chimps, […] Give me your has-beens, give me your twisted, your loners, your losers, give me your black-listed.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve not heard of the song before. It also depends which trail you start from, as there are multiple to the Hollywood Sign, but the one I did required using my hands at times to climb up some rocks. It was only briefly so, but still very different from the strolls I’ve had before on other trails!

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  2. I am glad to hear you were finally able to travel even if it was within your country. With so many states, countless different kinds of activities, and endless landmarks scattered throughout the land, you can easily spend a lifetime exploring the USA and still not see everything that your heart desires. Congratulations on your job position and being fully vaccinated. May this coming year bless you with love, peace, and empowerment. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, there is so much to see in the US in all 50 states. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my home country, so I hope with this year (and the next) I can explore more of it. Thanks for the kind words, Aiva, and I wish you a wonderful 2022, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your pictures, especially your food pictures. (I’ve never seen rainbow xiaolongbao before – so pretty!) Road trips are so much fun, aren’t they? So cool you got to go on one last year. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2022, Rebecca!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, rainbow xiaolongbaos seem to be the trend nowadays at dim sum/Chinese restaurants, at least here in southern California. I’m very glad I got to go on a road trip this year, and I hope to take more trips like it in the future. Happy 2022 to you, too, Darlene!

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    1. I agree! Even if it’s just a trip of a few miles/kilometres to the neighboring city, the adventures you have there can be just as rewarding as one you have out of state, or even out of country!

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  4. A great review Rebecca, of what looks like a wonderful year. I feel like many of us have had a year exploring in our own regions/countries more and that’s brought a bit of peace and joy in slowing down and the smaller things, which is no bad thing 🙂

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  5. It has been a year of moving forward for you professionally, as you settled in a job that could be yours for life. I must say, abroad or not, your travel excursions and hiking jaunts are amazing. You are situated in such a wonderful area with so many places to explore. I wish you a great 2022 in every way.

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    1. Yes, I would say that 2021 was more of a career year than anything. Now that I have a job secured, I hope to embark on more adventures, locally and (hopefully) internationally! I likewise wish you a wonderful 2022, Leighton. 🙂

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    1. Yes, it’s important to take some breaks every now and then so that you can work well and be mentally healthy. Right, you got married in September, I recall? It’s that month when summer slips into autumn, which makes for temperate weather (and a beautiful ceremony)! Wishing you a wonderful 2022 coming up!

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  6. Obviously there was a wide variety of outings, city or country, beach or mountain, with the highlights in the national parks. I wish you the best of luck in expanding the area of exploration in 2022.

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  7. Hey Rebecca. Well you packed a lot in last year! I’m recovering here from the covid – the numbers are so big right now I think most people are going to get it. Personally I dont think you are any more or less likely to catch it in another country than your own, or on a plane (a lot of airlines are only taking vaccinated travellers so that reduces the chances, and they pull in new air every 2-3 minutes as well so as far as I am concerned there a loads of other things that have a far higher chance of getting the virus). Nevertheless I wouldnt be going overseas right NOW but I am hopeful that by March things wont feel quite so scary. because at the moment it’s just raging everywhere

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    1. I feel you, Andy. To be fair, I got COVID a couple of weeks ago, so I agree that everyone will catch it at some point; whether or not it’ll really take you down is the question. International travel is VERY iffy now, and I’m worried that my trip for November will not come to fruition. We’ll have to see and come up with alternatives in case it doesn’t work out! Godspeed to you and this new year.

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  8. Carlsbad Flower Fields give Keukenhof a run for its money! Beautiful. Much like you, as I’ve edged from mid-twenties towards late twenties, I’m feeling more at peace with where I am in life and the opportunities still to come. Here’s to more adventures in 2022!

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    1. Absolutely! Carlsbad is smaller in size and in variety than Keukenhof, but it still does the trick to satiate that craving for colorful fields of flowers! The late twenties are a much-better place to be in, in my opinion, and I’m glad you’re feeling the same sentiment. Have a wonderful 2022 ahead!

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  9. Travel has taken on new meanings these days, with caution and more local. I’ve been able to let go of some of my expected more exotic destinations, and surprisingly, I’m okay with that. You have packed in some interesting stories this year!

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    1. Absolutely! I never saw how valuable local travel could be until COVID hit. Not only is it refreshing to check out beautiful places close to home, but it’s also convenient and helps support local businesses!

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  10. Thanks for your year in review, Rebecca. Sounds like you did a great job being cautious about socializing until you were fully vaccinated! I liked seeing your photos of hikes and excellent food from the year. The August celebratory meal looked particularly delicious. For us, the first half of 2021 was all about online schooling which was nobody’s favorite. We were so relieved when our tween could get vaccinated and attend in person fall of 2021, and so were they! Good news is we have rediscovered our local parks, which we are enjoying very much!

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    1. Sounds like you had a fruitful 2021! Schooling is tricky these days, and I was surprised when my city’s school district(s) had children and teachers return in-person around last spring, just after vaccines were rolling out. Everything’s still very uncertain, but we’ve made a ton of progress since the beginning of last year, and we can only hope it continues to improve in 2022!

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