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For the past few years, I’ve done lists of little life happenings that’ve occurred in the year since my last birthday.   This year is no different.  Here’re 23 things that happened in the year before my 23rd birthday.

  1. Got to do a solo trip to Seattle and met some great people in one of the most conveniently located hostels I’ve ever stayed in–right across the street from Pike’s Place Public Market with free beer and a free dinner! 
  2. Got to travel with a good friend and former roommate Sydney to see Portland for the first time, complete with great food and lots of walking.  Tried Thai khao man gai for the first time and my life has been forever changed–who knew boiled chicken and rice with a soy ginger garlic sauce could be so great?
  3. Took a solo trip to Paris for the first time and had a few subsequent firsts:
  4. Got my first transit ticket because I didn’t realize I needed to buy a separate fare to go from Paris to Versailles 
  5. Took myself on a really nice Valentine’s Day date, which included a cheese and wine tasting Airbnb experience, a walk around a big park and a beautiful orchid-focused botanical garden, a small decadent chocolate cake from a Pierre Hermé, and a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite Parisian restaurants, Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie.  It felt really good to be intentional about treating myself and telling myself that I’m worth the time and money.
  6. Made my own perfume in another Airbnb experience at a super cute little parfumerie in the 2nd arrondissement.  Sat next to a middle aged Australian woman who couldn’t remember directions for her life and seemed to be coming down with a cold.  I left as soon as I could to minimize my chances of getting sick—only to realize later on that she was one of my new hostel roommates 🤧
  7. As a result, had to navigate the Parisian pharmacy system which was a lot more simple than I thought it’d be. The pharmacists I talked to were all super friendly and spoke excellent English, and I was able to get some pretty affordable medicated lozenges that helped a lot with my sore throat and phlegm.
  8. Screamed my little pre-teen emo heart out at a Panic! At the Disco concert, a 22nd birthday present from my beloved friend Elizabeth.
  9. Decided to be super outgoing and sporty by joining my work department’s softball team, and also joining an intramural kickball team with a bunch of strangers. Met new people, had a lot of fun.
  10. Got to travel with Elizabeth to Seattle (again–couldn’t beat a $120 round trip flight for a long weekend!) and had lots of fun snacking our way through the city and trudging through muddy hiking paths
  11. Participated in my first ever 10k jogging/walking Bay to Breakers!  Also won a free roundtrip flight on Alaska, will probably use it for an adventure next year.
  12. Visited Chicago for the first time and got to spend a lot of quality time with Kathie, good friend of mine from forestry camp.  Ate a lot, drank a lot, and took some pretty neat pictures too.
  13. Experienced real Chicago deep dish pizza. My life has been changed.
  14. Attended my second ever forestry camp alumni weekend, complete with lots of day drinking and catching up with some of the most down to earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing
  15. Went camping with a group of coworkers and had a close encounter with a bear who insisted on throwing around a Yeti cooler while we slept.  Thankfully nobody was hurt (and the cooler is still intact), but the experience quite literally scared the shit out of me.
  16. Decided to be more involved in the Cal Alumni Band and played at 2 summer gigs—the 4th of July parade in Sausalito, and the AIDS walk in San Francisco.  Nothing could have prepared me for how sore I’d be after marching for 3 hours after not having marched for years, but I’m glad I did it.
  17. Paid off my student loans. 4 semesters as a transfer student to a public, in-state university racked me up just over $50k (including interest)—but it’s all behind me now.
  18. Got to visit New Haven and see Yale for the first time! Spent the day with Minji, a good friend from junior high who’s halfway through her Masters in Music.
  19. Visited New York for the second time and surprisingly didn’t take many pictures. I walked around a lot and didn’t feel such a strong urge to document everything—it was kinda nice to just exist in the environment and not feel the need to whip my camera out so often.
  20. Reconnected with Claudia, one of my hostel roommates from Paris! Spent half a day walking around and snacking through Manhattan before seeing my second ever (her first) broadway show—Sea Wall/A Life. We cried, we laughed. This was the first time I’ve ever met up again with someone I met through my travels, and I thought it was really special and encouraging to keep making friends and being open to new experiences.
  21. Spent a day with my dear friend and best friend from high school, Tami. Explored the Guggenheim and the Chelsea District and got swanky gin drinks at a speakeasy. Felt super blessed to have had such a good friend for so long—I look forward to visiting again!
  22. Participated in my first Cal Alumni Band Day! Learned the marching (and music tbh) for the Totally Radical 80’s show the morning of the game and had a lot of fun. Was it a shit show? Yes, but it was super worth it.
  23. Got my first real adult promotion (and raise!) to Environmental Inspector II.


Here’s to an adventurous and productive 23!

a twenty-something photographer & solo traveler based in the San Francisco Bay Area

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