End of 2021

And just like that....2021 has come to a close. I accidentally neglected this blog once again after I started my new job, but definitely wanted to recap the year before 2022 gets too much underway. While the world was still struggling with a global pandemic and it was definitely not the best year for the world as a whole, 2021 was a HUGE year for me. Looking back at my camera reel, I can't even believe the beginning of 2021 was only a year ago. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was living on the East Coast as I am writing this on a sunny 70 degree day in January in Southern California. 

In the beginning of 2021, I got vaccinated! (well technically, the last week of 2020). Unfortunately we are still struggling with the same pandemic, and now on our third wave (Omicron), a year later. However, in 2021 the world started opening up a big more. 

After our anniversary in January, we went back home to Maryland in February for Chinese New Year where I forced C to wrap dumplings again. Looking through pics from the beginning of last year, we were always wrapped in sweaters and jackets, and let me just say it loud and clear. I do NOT miss the cold!
Chinese New Year in Maryland 2021
Shortly after CNY, C and I got engaged! I remember as C forgot his backpack in Maryland once we drove back to Richmond, and then had to drive back to get his backpack. He took that opportunity to ask my dad for permission! One of the biggest highlights of the year. 

Celebrating an engagement during a pandemic with takeout sushi
We also went "camping" (i.e. visited our friends at their campsite) a few times. Our friends in Richmond always found the best campsites on farms/ranches with petting zoos and llamas on the property for their kids. I just went for the Bernese snuggles! 
Our last get together with our Richmond friends. It was a good three years! 
Cherry blossom festival in DC! I hadn't been in over 10 years
Met my sister in Mexico for my birthday! Traditionally we've gone internationally every spring break (see Italy, Spain) but with the pandemic, we couldn't go far. Since we were both vaccinated, we decided to visit an old favorite, Cancun! We took advantage of some cheap tickets and snuck away for a few days. This was after I ALMOST didn't make it due to a flights points fiasco at the airport! 
2021 I continued to dabble in making videos. Check our the video I made of our Cancun trip, if you'd like to see more. 
Flew back to the east coast by the way of Denver for a quick layover. I got to visit R's family, little I and Obie in Colorado! R just had another baby so I can't wait to go visit her again this year! 
First trip out after my whole family got vaccinated! Mother's day in Georgetown @ Founding Farmers 
My parents got pandemic chickens and they are obsessed 
Flew out to LA for apartment/house hunting and met all of C's extended family!
Nearing the end of the "school year." We went down to the Chesapeake bay shore for a family getaway. 

My fellowship graduation! See previous post 
Our engagement party in Maryland 
The day after this party, C and I hopped on a plane to LAX (well actually, Long Beach) and officially moved to California! My mom and sister visited a weeks later and we had fun touring weddings venues, driving around, and eating all the Asian food in sight. I actually had about 6 weeks off in between graduating fellowship and starting my new job, and was able to squeeze in a few road trips to Palm Springs, San Diego, and Orange County before we moved in. 
Pasadena City Hall--really felt like a scene out of Spain
I had so much fun on a girls trip to Palm Springs! I had never gone before but now totally understand the hype (if you go during the winter and not during 110 degree weather). 

Right after this trip, we moved into our new house. It's a rental, but we've managed to make it very homey. I can definitely see us staying here for a few years! 

In our new neighborhood! 
A house in the neighborhood
Lemons the size of my head freely grow on trees here!
Mexican food galore in our new hood
Tomatoes from our garden
Weekend trip to San Diego 
Reunited with E!
Balboa Park
We also took a family trip to Zion in Utah to hang out with more of C's family. It was scheduled right before one of my friends' weddings in SF, so it was actually a tight squeeze. We drove about 6 hours to Utah, passing by these colorful rocks in Vegas, before arriving at an Airbnb just outside of Zion. We spent time catching up with C's cousins and their kids, and did some kid-friendly hikes in Zion. The night before our flight to SF, we found our flight cancelled for no apparent reason and so C spent half the night on the phone with the airline trying to fix the situation. Thankfully, after hours of deliberation and weighing separate options (including having one of his cousins drive us to SF vs. a neighboring airport 8 hours away), we were finally able to secure a flight close to our original itinerary. We landed in SF one hour before the ceremony, changed in 10 minutes at our hotel, and made it there in time, 10 minutes before the bride walked down the aisle!

The last weekend before I started work, my sister visited our new house and we took her on a weekend day trip to Santa Barbara, which is just 30 minutes from us. 

Santa Barbara is famous for its Spanish style architecture. We stumbled upon an alleyway and did a wine tasting that reminded me of being back in Spain! 
Sushi and the Santa Barbara sunset
And then finally, it was time to buckle down and start my new job. I started in mid-August 2021, and hit the ground running. Looking back, the first few weeks were very busy with complicated cases and also trying to study for two board exams at that time. But then it settled back down to a new normal, and I've been able to enjoy it ever since. I feel like I've gained new confidence every day in making decisions and seeing patients, and I've already "ramped up" to a consistently busy level. Plus, after studying for 3 months and waiting for another month for the results, I found out that I passed both of my boards, making me an officially triple boarded attending physician! Of many of the highlights of this year, I feel like this was an actual accomplishment so we booked an upcoming trip to Hawaii to celebrate 😊

A few more snippets of California life. This hike in Point Mugu had epic views but we obviously didn't read the trail map right so had to scale down a mountain in tennis shoes. 
The haul from the avocado tree in our backyard!

Yes, there are pumpkin patches in Cali too
Cosmo's birthday!
Visiting my uncle and aunt in Orange County 
Driving up to coast to San Luis Obispo

Hitting up the LA food scene at Winston House in Venice
It was my first holiday season in California and it was such a mind bender to have sunny skies and 60 degree weather, not that I was complaining at all! For Thanksgiving, we hosted C's brother and his family from Sacramento, and then drove down to LA for a big family gathering.
Lightscape at the LA Arboreum (C only likes to pose for pictures wearing a mask. Lol)
We hosted C's brother and his family from Sacramento for the day before Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving day, so nice! Trying out a shiba for size 

I made an Eight Treasure Duck for thanksgiving!
And then for the Christmas holiday, my parents finally came over to Cali to visit me! I was actually pretty homesick at this time so their visit couldn't have come at a better time. 
Showing my parents around town
Then we took them up to Santa Barbara
This day, we drove >2 hours in LA traffic in the rain to go wedding dress shopping! I actually DID find the dress that day so it ended up being worth it. We went to celebrate finding the dress with Korean BBQ in Ktown! My parents loved it.
On Christmas day, we went to the beach again and then packed up for family dinner back down in LA. If you're counting, yes we went back and forth to LA like 3-4x this week...it was a lot of driving πŸ˜”
Christmas is C's birthday, so we got him not one but TWO cakes to celebrate. A sweet potato cake and a lychee one. So Asian! 
I let him wear his cowboy hat for his birthday ;) 
My parents in LAπŸ’œ
Then we headed over to Charles' sisters house to open the kids' presents. They all got broccoli πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
My new family πŸ’—
At the list minute, I also unexpectedly had 4 days off for New Year's, so we took the opportunity to visit C's brother's family in Sacramento. I had the best ice cream I've had in California yet. Gunther's Fruit freeze! 

Happy New Year!

I am SO thankful for my new family in California and I really love living here. Even though it was a huge life change moving to California far away from my own family, C's family has made me feel so welcome and one of their own. Coming from a small family, I never had that big family experience and now I finally do! 

2021 was so huge for me because I feel like I accomplished so much and checked off so many boxes.  I finally reached the end of my 10-year medical training, graduated fellowship, passed all of my medical boards, and started my first attending job in my dream specialty. Ever since medical school, my dream was to have my own office to hang all of my diplomas, and I finally do! I've only been there for about 5 months, but so far everything is going well. My colleagues have all been welcoming and supportive, and it's a good working environment. Furthermore, I got engaged, moved to Southern California, and feel extremely welcomed into my new family. For the first time I started school, I really feel like I have nothing pressing to "achieve." No more classes, exams, training, or jumping through hoops to unlock the next level. But even though I do feel settled to a large degree, there is always more. Buying a house. Getting a dog. Upgrading our lives. But I do want to slow down more and live in the moment more. 

Next year will be focused on executing our wedding and getting married (it's not a goal as I know it will happen!). It's already turning out to be quite the experience and I totally understand the bridezilla thing now. You just have to make so many decisions for one day in the future so far in advance. My other goal is to buy a house, but I know that probably won't happen until 2023. I just need to be patient and enjoy the ride. My other goals are to travel more as the world is opening back up from COVID. I want to visit friends in cities near and far and take a few trips with my family, C, and C's family as well before the wedding consumes all of our free time and energy. Next up, Hawaii! 


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