I often use this time of year to reflect on the year that was, put those reflections into words and post them here.

I kind of don’t feel like doing that this year.

The reason is simple: I’ve done a lot of reflecting throughout the year about everything that’s happened: while they were happening, after they happened, long after they happened. Suffice to say, it’s been exhausting. My brain is tired and maybe I just need a break from all the thinking.

That’s saying something, because I like to think. It’s a weird thing to say, but I like to mull stuff over, analyze and overanalyze, come to conclusions, figure out what I’ve learned from all of them, and save them for later use.  

But I’ve done my fair share of that this year, and for these last few days as we wind down 2018, I’d very much like to take a breather from all the…thoughts.

The other reason is that many of the things that happened which ultimately defined 2018 for me were very, very personal matters that not only involved me but many others, and I’d rather not air them out in public here (to my 2 readers, haha).

The most I’d say is this: 2018 taught me to be there for friends and to be there for family. I was happy to be there for them through everything that 2018 threw at us, and if I had to, I’d do it again in 2019. 

You know who you are – I love you guys. I’m here for you. I hope there won’t be a need for you guys to be there for me in 2019, but in any case, I’m thankful we’re all in this together, through whatever.  

Of course, there are things that happened that I am comfortable to talk about, and I will briefly mention them here.

In September this year, I closed down Love Monday Café. A brief passion project that taught me many things. It didn’t quite work out the way I planned, but I tried, and it was fun while it lasted. I have no regrets. I only remember the good times. 😊

As if it were a metaphor for my life this year in general, this year has been a year when I was able to come to terms with my life choices: career, passion pursuits, future path. I’d rather not dwell on them anymore because as I said, no more deep thoughts until 2019, but my friends know all about it. I’m putting this here more as a note to myself, if I’m being honest, so I don’t forget this memory.  

On a lighter note, then there are the usual travel stories: if this were a different year, I’d probably be raving about my 2 week-long UK solo trip on this year-end post. And maybe I should a little bit because it was epic.

I was there for a couple of days for work, and then I was there for a holiday. IT WAS LOVELY. It was the bubble I needed this year.

I stayed in the Cotswolds for five beautiful days where I lived in a converted old sheep wagon in the backyard of a lovely family’s quaint farmhouse. There was a stream nearby. I could hear the water flowing and owls hooting at night. The church bell would toll to signal the start of every hour. There would also be the occasional vroom of the fancy sports cars always zooming around because apparently, it’s a luxury to live in small, quaint English towns (I later found out my host is the daughter of a big-named former member of parliament).  

Every morning I’d wait for the bus at the Blockley bus stop that would take me to the other towns: Chipping Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh, Broadway. I’d be waiting with the same group of people, most of them Blockley residents in their 50s or 60s. The most memorable among them were a quiet man who was always impeccably dressed in a light-colored suit, slacks and a hat, who didn't say much but always had a smile, and a chatty gentleman and his wife.

On my last day in Blockley they noticed the luggage I had with me and, realizing I was already leaving, encouraged me to carve my initials on the bench we would sit on every day while waiting for the bus. The chatty gentleman even let me use his pocket knife to do it!

On the same day, my last in the Cotswolds, I decided to spend my morning in Broadway. I had a little bit of time to kill and came upon their village museum. Turned out that the artist Willard Wigan was there and so were his amazing microscopic sculptures. Literally microscopic - as in the exhibit was a table lined with microscopes you had to look into to see his work. That's one of his sculptures in the picture - created inside the eye of a needle. The eye of a needle! Can you imagine?

There weren't a lot of us, less than ten or so at the exhibit, and the artist was patient enough to answer our questions and tell us his story.

The most amazing thing is that he mentioned that he is actually on the autism spectrum. He said that even as a child he lived in a microscopic world, having been fascinated with ants and insects and all sorts of little things. He had trouble learning in school and often retreated to his tiny world (isn't there a Dr. Seuss book about something like this?).

It was inspiring, seeing him being so engaging, telling us his story, talking about his work. The incredible amount of focus, resilience and discipline it must take to do what he does! A testament to how one's difficulties are actually one's gifts, when seen in fine, microscopic detail.

After my adventure in the Cotswolds I spent a couple more days in London, in a log cabin in what my Londoner co-workers said was the dodgy part of the city, but it was a nice, quiet place, again by a stream.

I met my host’s neighbor, a guy taking his PhD on African studies and his Korean professor friend and her Korean student-friend. I joined their Saturday evening barbecue where they were talking about Grizzly Man, the documentary about Timothy Treadwell who was killed from an attack by the bears he loved – it was captured on video (but not shown in the documentary, don’t worry). 

ANYWAY, my host’s neighbor had an impressive beard, kind eyes and an eclectic taste in music.

Also while in London, I got to go to Wimbledon, a childhood dream. AND I GOT TO SEE RAFA NADAL PRACTICE! It was insane. I felt like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. Rafa is a gladiator. He was gorgeous.

ALSO, I got to watch The Book of Mormon, which was hilarious. BUT I ALSO GOT TO WATCH HAMILTON! It was beautiful and I cried a lot.

My West End experience was quite an adventure and a story in itself, actually. When I watched Book of Mormon, I made friends with the lovely American couple sitting next to me who said they reminded me of their liberal, free-spirited daughter, and they were my adoptive parents for the duration of the play.

Meanwhile, at Hamilton, I wasn't able to get tickets online but I thought I'd take my chances at getting one at the theatre. I lined up for the resale queue and got lucky! So for the play I was mom to two teens from Glasgow who were twice my height. Their real mom wasn't feeling well and couldn't make the show so their dad, George, resold the ticket.

I thought the fangirling for the year would end in London over musicals but little did I know I would double down on it towards the end of the year, for an entirely different type of music: Kpop. Went to Taipei to watch iKON in concert in September as a birthday gift to myself and because I needed a break from aforementioned drama, and it was a great long weekend and a great show. THEN I saw them again in Manila in November WHICH WAS AMAZING! My fangirling hasn’t let up since. 

And I don’t think I want it to let up soon – Kpop might seem like a trivial thing, but fangirling over iKON has been the escape and little spot of untainted joy I needed this year. I’m so thankful I’ve been supporting them since their trainee days on Who is Next! Best decision of my Kpop life.

I realize I was quite the Scroogette at the beginning of this post, but it’s nice how it turned out quite happy in the end, somehow. Things always work out still, maybe.

I don’t have big wishes or dreams or goals for 2019. I’m on my way to finishing editing my first novel, and I hope that by the time this goes up, I would’ve already finished it.

On top of that, in 2019 I hope to learn how to bake scones, make clotted cream and learn how to play the ukulele. That’s it – plain and simple.

Happy New Year!

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