Looking back at 2023

People walking down a building hallway with high sunny ceilings

Getting a new job

The job market last year was tough on many of us with countless layoffs in the tech industry. I left my job back in 2020 to recharge and then build my own idea. Due to an unforeseen life event, I decided to pause this personal project and went back into searching for a job.

At this point, I was competing with hundreds of people applying for the same role which led me into a dark place. Everything became uncertain and I began to consider a different route.

But then, in the middle of the year, a friend referred me to a job opening at his company. The role was for a one-year contract with a potential to turn into a full-time opportunity. I took the offer and started working for Visa in mid-2023 as a senior designer.

So far, things are heading in the right direction–I enjoy doing the work I do every day, I’m lucky to be part of a great, supportive team, and I align with the company culture. I’m hopeful things will work out this year and I’ll continue to be part of the team.

A man and a corgi in a lush backyard

Moving back to SF

We talked a lot about moving back to San Francisco in 2023. While living in LA was great–we were close to a lot of great restaurants and met so many awesome people–we still missed the lush parks, scenic hills, and walkable neighborhoods of SF.

The new job was hybrid which meant I had to be in the office at least twice a week. I took this as a sign that SF wanted us back. I also didn’t mind going back to the office as I was looking forward to meeting new people and having that office experience after many, many years of working from home.

A young couple standing in front of a Hindu temple in Bali

Back to Bali

About a decade ago, I went on a solo trip to Bali and fell in love with the island. Bali was culturally fascinating, unbelievably breathtaking, and unforgettable. I told myself that I’d go back to the island with Jeremie next time I had a chance.

And so that time came. We spent a few days enjoying the mountainside of Ubud, eating good food, and recharging our souls before returning to LA.

A young couple in a cozy cafe smiling at the camera

Singapore anniversary

We used to celebrate anniversaries before getting married. It seems like something couples do when they start their relationships. But ever since moving to the US, we’ve been spending a lot of time traveling and exploring new things that it didn’t seem necessary to celebrate a specific day.

My mom joked that it was as if we were on a constant honeymoon and I think that drove the point home that we were better off celebrating whenever we wanted rather than on just a specific date.

Singapore served as a quick stopover before going to Bali. We were only there for a couple of days to revisit the places we used to frequent while living there. One place on top of our list was a little cafe where Jeremie proposed to me. The cafe is located in Tiong Bahru, one of our favorite spots in Singapore.

A man carrying a corgi in his arms while standing in front of a field of yellow wildflowers

Went on smaller adventures rather than big ones

Since having Lil’ Chips in our lives, certain places and activities have become difficult to accomplish. Instead of complaining about it, we decided to change our habits.

2023 was about opting to explore local (sometimes underrated) spots rather than flying to faraway lands. I feel like we were able to find solace in these little adventures after going through many exhausting life events. It’s like being in familiar places with very few people so that we could just get away even for a brief second.

Three corgis with one in the foreground dressed in a white shirt with the number two printed on it.

Lil’ Chips’s firsts

At some point in 2022, we were lucky enough to get picked for a spot in the corgi nationals. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the winter race due to timing. We were told that she could still race in the 2023 summer nationals so we gave it a shot without expecting anything. Well, it turns out that Lil’ Chips is a natural-born racer. She kept on winning the quarters and semis and ended up racing in the finals along with 9 other corgis!

We also went to our first Corgicon, let her ride a kayak for the first time, and taught her how to swim! This was definitely a fun year filled with new experiences for Lil’ Chips.

Camping at Big Bear Lake

There’s a place up the mountains of LA where Angelinos frequently go to escape the city. Our trip to Big Bear Lake was short but a great reminder of how amazing the outdoors can be. We camped, hiked, kayaked, swam, and climbed rocks.

It was one of the highlights of our year.

Hoards of people in halloween costumes walk down a long street in San Francisco

The coolest Halloween night I’ve ever experienced

We didn’t have plans for Halloween night but as we were walking around our neighborhood, we stumbled upon a Halloween parade.

From up the hill, you could see hundreds of people in costumes walking down several blocks while homes on the sides were decorated in spooky props.

It was sooo much fun to feel the spirit of Halloween in person after only having seen them in movies. Lil’ Chips wore her batwings costume for the 3rd halloween in a row and even got dog treats from a few generous homeowners.

A cute dog opens up and receives a bone-shaped dog biscuit

Money-saving hacks

When you find yourself in a difficult financial situation, you look for creative ways to solve your problem. That was what we did in 2023.

To save on gas, we opted to walk more thereby increasing our daily average steps to 11,000. I’ve also baked my own dog treats at home which saved us a few bucks every month.

And instead of spending big for Christmas, we decided to cook paella at home. It was delicious.

Beautiful pink and orange sunset with a view of Sutro tower and some homes in SF

Watched Ali Wong live

I don’t have pictures of that night since we weren’t allowed to take pictures but I’ll just use this to represent that experience instead.

We had watched a lot of shows from concerts to story nights to comedy gigs before the pandemic, but stopped when it became unsafe to be in crowded spaces. And even after everything was back to “normal”, we were struggling to find time for ourselves because Lil’ Chips has separation anxiety.

When we saw that Ali Wong was performing in her home city, we went out of our way to watch her. She was amazing live, no regrets!

Freshly baked cookies on a cookie sheet

Developed new habits

2023 was not all good memories. At some point, I developed a habit of stress-eating before and after dinner. It felt like I was always hungry and craving for something.

I used to be good at controlling myself and setting boundaries but for some reason, I ignored my protests and kept going. I’m still working on them now and hoping it’s not causing any long-term negative effects on my health.

Sometimes, I just want to give in and ignore that part of my brain that wants to keep me healthy. As I said, I’m still working on it.

A car driving through lush trees and a mountain up ahead

Tragic life events

We lost a lot of good souls last year. A lot of loss, a lot of sleepless nights, and things that still don’t feel real.

Even after almost a year, it’s still hard to talk about them. As much as I want to write about the list of unfortunate events that happened last year, I’m choosing to keep them private. In time, I will be able to share more.

Melody

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