2017 Retrospective


New Year’s Day is probably my favorite day of the year. I love looking at the year ahead, imagining the possibilities, planning for the future. It’s the ultimate clean slate, enough time to stretch the limits of your imagination, trying to picture what that amount of time can hold, but not so much that you can’t fathom it. Before I can look forward, though, I like to look back and appreciate what happened in the last year, and how close it was to my goals and expectations. Some of the highlights of this year:


My thesis title page: "A Taxonomy of Participatory Design Projects in Architecture."

My thesis title page: “A Taxonomy of Participatory Design Projects in Architecture.”

January was big! I wrote a 55 page thesis for my undergraduate degree. I think it was actually my favorite accomplishment of my entire undergrad career. I wrote it in three days (after lots of prep work), and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got an A+ (I think the only A+ I got at MIT), and my advisor even called the course administrator to tell her how impressed he was with my work and to recommend me for graduation. There’s a lot to be proud of there.


athenahealth holiday party banner

I started working full-time at athenahealth, after a weeklong orientation at the end of January.

I started a real, adult job at athenahealth this year, working as an Instructional Designer on the Product Education and Learner Experience team. It was really gratifying to start my career in a field I didn’t expect to be in and see how well it actually fit me. I love my job, I love my team, and I really love working at athena. To me, athena has all the best culture aspects of MIT without all the stress, and the mission is absolutely inspiring, which makes it so easy to want to come to work in the morning.


Cambridge Craicfest 5k

Ethan and I ran a 5k on one of the coldest days of March.

In one of the few athletic accomplishments I had this year, I ran a 32 minute 5k in the freezing Boston winter. Even if it wasn’t a particularly stellar time, it was a fun experience! The course took us along the Charles River near the Longfellow bridge, and concluded with a party in the garage of the Cambridgeside Galleria. If nothing else, we got free hats!


Portland, Maine -- April 2017

We took a trip up to Portland, ME, to see a conductor friend of Ethan’s.

I really like Portland, and impromptu trips like this one help me get out of my little Boston bubble. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget that so many cool locations are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. We hit up our favorite brunch spot, Hot Suppa, and listened to a bunch of good tunes on vinyl. It was a successful little day trip, and I want to have more things like this in my 2018.


MIT Senior Ball 2017

Ethan took me to MIT’s Senior Ball.

I had been looking forward to Senior Ball since I found out it was a thing at MIT during my freshman year. I couldn’t wait to party it up before graduation, celebrating the end of a challenging degree. Ethan went full out—new suit, corsage, and a beautiful anchor necklace graduation present. We danced the night away, drinking signature champagne cocktails at the very fancy Fairmont Copley hotel. It was a wonderfully magical night.


June was jam-packed with so many exciting events! Graduation was the first weekend, and my family flew out from Utah to be there. All week, I was worried that it would rain, but the day dawned bright, clear, and hot as hell. I got a mega sunburn on the back of my neck from sitting on the lawn in Killian Court for the four hour ceremony. The highlight was picking up my degree and shaking Rafael Reif’s hand, closely followed by hearing Tim Cook speak. I sat in the front row!

After graduation, my mom, sister, and I spent the majority of two weeks in Bulgaria, with a few day foray to Cyprus to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins. I saw so many cultural landmarks of my heritage, spent quality time with my grandma, and even got to ride a camel. A pretty epic experience.


First time holding my not-so-little Nugget!

First time holding my not-so-little Nugget!

I spent a lot of July hoping and wishing for my childhood dream of having a dog to come true. I met a scruffy little candidate, and we set the wheels in motion for her adoption. Ethan liked her, her temperament seemed ideal for us, and she was the perfect size. There were a few things to work out—timing, condo approval, and just deciding whether or not we were ready for a dog—but by the end of July, we knew we’d be adopting our little Nugget.


My 25th birthday

Ethan and me on my 25th birthday, with said chocolate cheesecake.

My birthday month always has good vibes, and this year, it was also packed with activities. Ethan and I moved in together in a cute little 1960’s apartment in Belmont. We made an epic (and excruciating) IKEA trip to outfit our new place with furniture, and spent a fair amount of time deciphering sparse instructions and tightening cam locks. The place came together well, and I celebrated my birthday with Ethan for the first time since we started dating. His mom made me my favorite chocolate cheesecake, and brought it to Boston when she and Ethan’s sister came to visit.


Majestic Nugget

Our little Nugget, already at home on the couch.

In September, on 9/9, we brought home Nugget. Since I already blogged about this, I’ll link the recap here. Needless to say, it was definitely up there on the highlight reel of 2017.


Hoover Dam with Remy and Sunny

From left to right: Remy, Sunny, and me on a trip to Hoover Dam after a successful Instructional Design conference in Vegas.

In October, I attended my first real professional conference: DevLearn. It was so inspiring to see all the ways in which we could innovate our own learning materials, as well as creative strategies I could apply in the day to day. On the last day of the conference, after the presentations, we rented a Mustang convertible and drove through the desert to see one awesome manmade wonder: the Hoover Dam.


Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving dinner with Matthew and Vela—too busy having fun playing music and talking to take pictures of the four of us.

Holidays without family are always hard, but this year, we put in extra effort to make it feel like home. Our friends Matthew and Vela moved here from Boulder, and the four of us made a feast! I’d say our adulting was a success.


My sister with Nugget

My sister Yana loved spending time with and taking pictures of Nugget. Nugget preferred my mom’s cooking over the pictures.

The highlight of December was spending time with my family at home in Utah. I was able to bring Nugget on the plane with me (under the seat in front of me), and my family loved getting to know her sassy little personality. Cooking with my mom, spending time with my dad talking about projects and work, watching movies and going on walks with Yana and her boyfriend Gavin, were all part of the agenda, as well as spending time with Ethan’s parents and grandparents. My mom flew back to Boston with Ethan, Nugget, and me, and spent a night at our apartment before flying on to Bulgaria to spend time with her mom. It was lovely to have her here, and keep our Boba tea tradition going strong.

All in all, despite everything that’s going on in this godawful world, 2017 was pretty good for me. I’m looking forward to everything that 2018 holds and making more memories with my favorite people. Happy New Year!

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