Tag Archive | year in review

2022 in Review

Happy New Year’s Eve! I am not judging the “goodness” of years anymore, and anyway, you probably don’t come to this blog for news of the world. I’m sure you have at least some idea of what is happening, both good and bad, in various corners of the globe (can a globe have corners?). I hope your winter holidays, breaks, and vacations have been and are filled with warmth, light, and good company.

My 2022 was pretty good. Here is what the year looked like for me:

  • I taught my first three-course semester, including two new classes (Loanword Adaptation and Tone). In the fall, I taught yet another new course (Linguistic Typology). I secured another two years teaching in the Linguistics Concentration at Grinnell.
  • I curated (yes, Mom, curated!) a list of middle grade fantasy novels about fighting injustice for the book discovery website Shepherd.
  • I returned to Northampton, MA for my friend Leland’s very musical wedding. There were a number of linguists and Swarthmore acquaintances in attendance, and the wedding festivities included my first shape note singing since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • In June and July, I spent three weeks in Meudon with Isabelle and Olivier. Isabelle and I caught the Little Prince exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and we all went to l’Hôtel de la Marine and l’Aquarium de Paris (including the pop-up Japanese food terrace Hanami).
  • My family canoed and camped in the Boundary Waters again, this time returning to Hog Creek and Perent Lake, and I never got around to blogging about it!
  • My short story “Maghda’s Song” was published in Anathema!
  • In September, I drove to Chicago for a lovely (tasty and literary) weekend with my childhood best friend Hana and her dog Bertie.
  • This fall, I fulfilled my vague ambition of playing in an early music ensemble by joining the Collegium Musicum at Grinnell. I have acquired a rudimentary ability to play the bass viol.
  • Over fall break, I saw Malindo Lo and her Minnesotan editor Andrew Karre at Red Balloon Bookshop and danced to the calling of my original dance teacher from Swarthmore Folkdance Club at Minnesota English Country Dance Weekend.
  • I turned in a new draft of my hopefully-next-novel to my agent!
  • Finally, I had two brushes with fame. First, a photo I took of moon jellies at the Paris aquarium became my most-liked tweet ever (not that that’s saying much), and the president of the aquarium replied to it. Second, the experience encapsulated in this tweet and quote tweet led to my being interviewed by a Wall Street Journal columnist for this piece (I used to have a non-paywalled link, but it seems to have expired).

Happy 2023! Wishing you good health, strong community, and much joy!

A misty morning on Perent Lake

2021 in Review

Oookay, well, I’m not sure there’s much purpose to evaluating how “good” a year was anymore because, from what I’ve seen, the consensus is that if 2020 was a dumpster fire, 2021 was…a bigger dumpster fire? It got off to a strong start in my country with an insurrection in our nation’s capital right after the new year. On a brighter note, I am immensely grateful for effective vaccines and my ability to have access to them. They have made the pandemic somewhat less nerve-wracking, even as it wears on.

I said 2020 felt long; 2021 has also felt very long. But here are the highlights of my year:

I wish all three of my readers (:P) a safe and healthy 2022! May it be a year of progress and hope!

Fjallsárlón, Iceland

2020 in Review

Well, 2020 was something, wasn’t it? Looking back on my previous year in review posts brings back lots of good memories, but also some lines that, in retrospect, are…interesting. In 2016, I remarked that “[a] lot of people have been saying that 2016 was awful”. I would bet that pales in comparison to what they’ve been saying about 2020. And last year, I said, “let me zoom back in on 2019”! Little did I know how much Zooming was to come (though in fact I personally have been doing very little Zooming, since my institution prefers other platforms).

2020 was admittedly a devastating year for my country, for much of the world, and for many, many people. I have been extraordinarily lucky to have been sheltered from the worst ravages of the pandemic. I don’t blame anyone who’s not ready to look for the silver linings or who’s not interested in hearing about all the good things that happened to other people amidst a year of suffering and loss. Paradoxically, the pandemic gave me a marvelous gift I would never have otherwise had, so it’s impossible for me to say it’s been all bad.

I will say that 2020 has felt long. The things I did in January and February feel incredibly distant. But they belong to this year too. Here is the bird’s-eye view of my 2020:

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t imagine what the future will bring. Nevertheless, I wish you hope and connection in 2021.

2019 in Review

2019 was also a big year, though I did not travel as far as in 2018. On Twitter (which I have now joined), I’ve seen people reflecting on the whole decade since we’re about to enter the new 20s (how weird–I think “the 20s” still evokes flappers and Prohibition to me, though the pull of the 20th century feels weaker than for “the 60s,” say). It hadn’t occurred to me to look back on the decade till I started seeing those tweets. I don’t think I much noticed the dawn of the last decade; I was just trundling along in college. But if I look back on this past decade, most of the major accomplishments of my life were achieved in it: I got an agent, I graduated from college, I published two novels, I got a Ph.D…. One can, of course, debate the merits of cataloging one’s life in terms of material accomplishments. Anyway, let me zoom back in on 2019 and recall the highlights, non-chronologically:

2020, here I come!

2018 in Review

2018 has been quite a year. Do I say that every year? (I actually don’t, but I probably could.) Between the am-I-finishing-grad-school-this-year-or-not uncertainty (answer: no), the politics, the traveling, and the wonderful times with friends, it’s been a full year. Here are some highlights, not in chronological order:

In 2019, I will be dissertating and, I hope, writing and perhaps beginning a brand new adventure!

2017 in Review

Well, what do you know, apparently I began my 2016 in Review post by saying 2016 had been awful. Little did I know what 2017 had in store! -_- But again, despite the political train wreck and the grad school angst, 2017 also had its share of joys. Instead of doing a month-by-month recap of 2017, I’ve decided to just recall some highlights, in no particular order:

And 2017 is ending on an exciting note–on Friday, I learned that a short story of mine had been accepted for publication! This is my first short fiction sale. I’ll be excited to share it with you in 2018! Happy New Year!

2016 in Review

A lot of people have been saying that 2016 was awful, and yes, there was plenty of awful. Particularly a certain week in November. But there was a lot of wonderful too. Forthwith, my recap of my 2016.

In January, I got glasses! I also worked on Wildings copyedits and hosted a singing party.

In February, I revealed the cover for Wildings, trawled Hmong and Lao dictionaries for loanwords, and coordinated grad student Q & As with the computational linguistics job candidates.


Celebrating Chandeleur

In March, my mother visited me for spring break, and we visited Mt. Wilson and went wildflower hunting. Then I took Trip #1 to the Bay Area to present a poster on Maragoli hiatus resolution at ACAL.


Happy linguist amidst the echium at UCLA

In April, I went to AWP in Los Angeles, where I met Anne Ursu. I also went to the LA Times Festival of Books with Isabelle and to YALLWEST. It was a bookish month.

In May, Isabelle and I went to the magic show our conceptual artist had produced, and I spent a day shape note singing, fiddling, and stalking hurdy-gurdy players at the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest. At the end of the month, I went home for my brother’s graduation from Count Olaf College, and I managed to catch my Morris dancer friends, in town for the Midwest Morris Ale, performing in a brewery!


I also managed to catch my mother’s garden at the height of peony season!

In June, I took Trip #2 to the Bay Area, where I got to see my friends Miyuki, Andrew, Leland, and Katherine. I went to the Bay Area Book Festival and wandered around some of San Francisco with Leland. Back in Los Angeles, I attended the UCLA Linguistics Department’s 50th anniversary celebration and returned to the Mixed Remixed Festival, this time as a panelist.


Datvebis Gundi performs before the anniversary banquet (that’s illustrious phonetician Ian Maddieson lurking in the background)

July: Did I do anything in July? In theory, I was being studious.


There was a fire somewhere that made for interesting skies one day

In August, I went to a Georgian yodeling workshop and saw the Dunhuang cave temples exhibit at the Getty. Isabelle and I coached a tour guide in speaking our invented Martian English in our second collaboration with the conceptual artist. Martian English was featured at the Seattle Art Fair and even found its way into the New York Times, so I think we’ve made it. I returned to Minnesota, visited my friend Alex at Seed Savers in Decorah, IA, and went camping in the Boundary Waters.


Adorable White Park calves, from a proud and ancient line of British cattle

In September, after enjoying the Minnesota State Fair, I returned to California for Trip #3 to the Bay Area. I saw the San Francisco Opera premiere Dream of the Red Chamber, visited Angel Island, Muir Woods, and Yosemite, and had all sorts of adventures, one of which involved Amtrak. I also acquired a copy of the Northern Harmony.


In October, I went on Mike the Poet’s tour of downtown Los Angeles, which started at the LA Central Library and ended at the Last Bookstore. I started studying Manchu and presented a poster on Efik reduplication at AMP at USC.

On November 1st, Wildings came out! I had a launch party at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul and spoke to students at my high school. Then I had a launch party at Children’s Book World in Los Angeles (which just turned 30!). In between those two parties was a devastating election. Fight on. At the end of the month, I hosted my first Friendsgiving.


Autumn in Minnesota

In December, I had my radio debut on Minnesota Public Radio, ran an artificial language learning study, and acquired a hammered dulcimer from my friend Chase.


Minnehaha Falls at the end of December

Happy New Year and onward!

2015 in Review

Another year has flown by! As in 2013 and 2014, I am again recapping my adventures of the past twelve months.

In January, I went to the All-California Sacred Harp Convention in San Francisco.


In February, I made pancakes for Shrove Tuesday and fried rice for Chinese New Year.


In March, Datvebis Gundi, the UCLA Georgian chorus, had its first real concert. I wrote a couple of guest posts on music and writing for Paolini.net. I hiked in Joshua Tree National Park and visited the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens again. Then I went to Eugene, OR for the Annual Conference on African Linguistics, where I gave my first ever conference talk. Instead of staying in a hotel, I camped in the wilds of Oregon with my Field Methods professor. March was a busy month!

In April, I met my editor at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, met Rachel Hartman at C2E2, and presented at the Chicago Linguistic Society’s conference at the University of Chicago. Then there was CLS karaoke. All these adventures are recounted here.

In May, I was mostly frantically writing my master’s thesis, so there are no pictures.

In June, I bought a violin at a thrift shop, met Jamie Ford at the Mixed Remixed Festival, attended a cello concert at the Mojica Hacienda, and went to England for the first time with my parents.

Iffley, St. Mary's (2)

Me examining the beaky doorway of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Iffley

In July, I finished my travels in England and returned to California. At the end of the month, I spent an amazing four days playing traditional music on cello and fiddle at Camp Kiya in the Tehachapi Mountains.


Me performing with the Welsh fiddle class at Camp Kiya

In August, I went home to Minnesota, and my family went canoeing and camping in the Boundary Waters.

In September, I went to the Minnesota State Fair and learned two new songs and a dance at a workshop with the Georgian ensemble Zedashe. I also went to the release party for Rebecca Hahn’s second novel, The Shadow Behind the Stars, at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. Then I returned to Los Angeles for the start of my third year of grad school. I saw the Tuvan throat singing ensemble Huun Huur Tu and the Ukrainian group DakhaBrakha perform at UCLA.


Mooncake for the Mid-Autumn Festival

In October, I must’ve been working very hard on Projects of Great Importance, like my research on Maragoli hiatus resolution, my latest Book 2 revision, and the Lunar French dialect a fellow grad student and I were creating for a conceptual artist (I haven’t talked about this at all, but sometime in the new year I will!). I also crashed that nyckelharpa concert. No pictures, though.

In November, I submitted the “final” draft of Book 2 (copyediting still to come) and turned a Georgian chorus rehearsal into my birthday party, all on the same day! I also filed my master’s thesis, so…I think I have a master’s degree? My colleague and I visited the conceptual artist’s Hollywood studio for further collaboration on the Lunar French project. Then I went home for Thanksgiving, participated in Indies First at Red Balloon Bookshop on Small Business Saturday, and played around with an electric typewriter.


At Hansen Tree Farm in Anoka, the day after Thanksgiving, looking for the perfect Christmas tree

In December, I finished up the fall quarter and returned to Minnesota. I went on a road trip to Decorah, attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah (with participatory Hallelujah chorus!), and started to inventory the boxes of stuff from my grandparents’ house. I found my grandparents’ report cards, yearbooks, theses, diplomas, my great-great-uncle’s baptism certificate, my great-great-aunt’s wedding photo, and much more. It finally snowed properly on Boxing Day, and even more over the last couple of days.


Me in the alpaca hat my parents brought me back from Peru in November

Happy New Year!

2014 in Review

A festive New Year’s Eve to you, and all good wishes for 2015!

Last year, I presented a sort of photo essay recapping my 2013, so I’m trying it again for 2014. Without further ado, here is the much abridged account of what I did this past year.

In January, I attended the Linguistic Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, a conference which inspired a couple of posts. I also went to the All-California Sacred Harp Convention, which was the first convention I ever led a song at, which means for the first time my name will appear in the annual minutes! I know, it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. January also saw the founding of Datvebis Gundi, our beloved UCLA Georgian chorus, which I’ve written about rather a lot. I also ushered in the new Year of the Horse (my year!) with some homemade pork, tofu, and noodles.


Frost patterns on my window, Minnesota, January 2014. No, this has nothing to do with anything.

February was less eventful. I unveiled the Sparkers cover and, I don’t know, studied a lot of syntax, phonology, and semantics. Maybe. I also made this chickpea salad with carrot tops because what else do you do with carrot tops?


In March, Sparkers ARCs arrived. I also experienced my first ever earthquake! My family visited me for a really great spring break that involved Chinese-style lobster, a Shandong beef roll, and ramen. And I started writing Book 2.



In April, it was National Sibling Day on Facebook. I watched a lunar eclipse and churned out copious amounts of words. Also, the now infamous (er, among choir members) article about Datvebis Gundi appeared in UCLA’s Daily Bruin.

Lake Arrowhead (3)

Me and my brother at the Rim of the World (San Bernardino Mountains) (This picture is from March, but National Sibling Day was in April!)

In May, I went to a splendiferous hurdy-gurdy concert and the LA Regional All-Day Sacred Harp Singing. I also participated in the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which gained tremendous momentum over the following months and led to the founding of a full-fledged non-profit organization. You should check it out.


The Korean Friendship Bell, near the site of the Regional All-Day Singing

In June, I went to Minnesota for my cousin’s wedding. I also went to Northern Spark 2014 and rode the new Green Line train between Minneapolis and St. Paul for free on its opening night. I returned to Los Angeles just in time to move into a new apartment.


Wedding cake (See that knife on the right with frosting on it? That was my dinner knife! They used it to cut the cake (before dinner)!)

In July, I celebrated Independence Day in Los Angeles and went on various local adventures with my roommate.


A pomegranate tree in the garden of the Getty Museum

In August, I volunteered at the LA Food Bank and saw a Shakespeare in the Park production of The Taming of the Shrew in Griffith Park. I’m not very fond of that particular play, but it was a fun outing. A high school friend of mine visited me in LA, providing the perfect excuse to finally try the Persian food that is so plentiful in my neighborhood. Tahchin is really good, you guys.


Also, a finished copy of Sparkers arrived!

In September, I went to Minnesota for my cousin’s wedding. Before that, I went on an expedition to Chinatown for moon cakes. I had my launch party at Red Balloon and sang at the Minnesota Sacred Harp Convention. And on September 30th, Sparkers came out!


Me, babushka-ish, at the Red Balloon launch party (Photo by Laura C.)

I kicked off October by speaking to a group of creative writers at my high school, at the invitation of the librarian and my 11th grade English teacher. Back at UCLA, I began my second year of grad school. At the end of the month, I had my California launch party for Sparkers at Children’s Book World.

Me and Andrew

Me and my friend Andrew at Children’s Book World

In November, I threw myself into TAing undergraduate Phonology I, sketching the grammar of Maragoli (our field methods class language), and furiously revising the rough draft of Book 2. Oh, and after blithely tolerating a nice spider in our apartment for weeks, I killed it because my more uneasy roommate discovered it was a black widow. What with all the excitement, there are no photos from November.

In December, I wrapped up all the fall quarter madness and returned to Minnesota once more. After a green Christmas, it finally snowed and got cold again, and I went skating and played (very amateur) hockey on one of the Minneapolis lakes.


Our Christmas tree (Notice the abundance of book-shaped presents beneath it)

That’s it. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a fantastic and fulfilling 2014!

Here is a highly selective overview of what I did in 2013 (pie is heavily featured):

In January, I baked a galette des rois for Epiphany, visited UC Santa Barbara, and went to the St. Paul Winter Carnival, where my hopes of seeing an ice palace were dashed.

No ice palace, alas, so this ice sculpture of the St. Paul Cathedral had to do.

No ice palace, alas, so this ice sculpture of the St. Paul Cathedral had to do.

In February, I spent a week in Istanbul with my family. Later in the month, my organization held its annual Day on the Hill at the Minnesota State Capitol, from whence I went straight to the airport to catch a flight to Tucson and the University of Arizona. Also: crêpes for Mardi Gras.

The Yeni Cami (New Mosque) at sunset

The Yeni Cami (New Mosque) at sunset

In March, I returned from a visit to UC San Diego just in time to attend my first Playford Ball.  I also went to open houses at Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, and UCLA. So much flying. Oh, and I baked a pie for Pi Day.


In April, I went to a singing workshop given by the Georgian ensemble Zedashe and attended a Tim Eriksen concert. I decided on UCLA for grad school and traveled up to the Iron Range for the first time on a work-related trip. It snowed endlessly in Minnesota. Sparkers went on submission on April 30th.

On my way to the bus stop, one fine April morning

On my way to the bus stop, one fine April morning

I spent most of May on submission. I celebrated May Day in Powderhorn Park. On May 14th, I watched Gov. Dayton sign Minnesota’s marriage equality bill into law on the Capitol steps and then went out for ice cream with my housemates at Izzy’s, where we encountered Morris dancers! And then Sparkers sold at the end of the month! May was pretty great.

Minnesota State Capitol, May 14th, 2013

Minnesota State Capitol, May 14th, 2013

In June, I went to the all-night arts festival Northern Spark at the St. Paul Union Depot, where I watched a replica house burn down at 2 a.m.

Gives a new meaning to my title...

Gives a new meaning to my title…

In July, my volunteer year came to an end. I also recorded a short cello part for a friend, who hopes to produce pop-rock songs for a Mainland Chinese audience. Who knows, maybe he’ll become famous in China, and then I’ll be able to say I played the 18-bar cello line in that one song…

I made this rhubarb pie in July

I made this rhubarb pie in July

In August, I brushed up on my phonology and syntax and road tripped to California with my family, stopping at Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon on the way.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

In September, I moved into my new apartment in Los Angeles and promptly became a hermit while I worked on Sparkers line edits. I finished just in time to start grad school at UCLA.

Hello Kitty

I do not actually own this creature…

In October, I made a pumpkin pie for the Linguistics Department’s Halloween party. And I listened to the livestream of Osmo Vänskä’s last concert as the conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra


In November, I started this blog and had a joint birthday party with two other first-years in my program. The day after Thanksgiving, I attended my first high school reunion in Minneapolis.

Joint birthday cake

Joint birthday cake

In December, I finished knitting my second pair of socks ever and baked a chocolate tart for Christmas Eve dinner. And I read a lot of books! What could be better?


I have high hopes for 2014. Sparkers will come out in the fall. I can’t even really imagine what that’s going to be like, so I’m not going to try. Happy New Year!