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Decade in Review December 26, 2019

The last time I checked Twitter, it was fashionable to post your milestone accomplishments of the 2010s to count your blessings and celebrate the upcoming start of the '20s. Of course, the last time I checked Twitter was a whole week ago, so what was fashionable then has likely been subverted by witty cynics, criticized in an angry backlash, parodied with Baby Yoda memes, and then forgotten.

I'll play nevertheless, because Sweetie and I have a lot of blessings to count. In January 2010 I was a 21-year-old fresh college graduate looking forward to grad school. Now in December 2019 I'm a 31-year-old homeowner with a solid career and too many hobbies to handle.


The decade began with adventure. In spring Sweetie and I traveled to Japan before I began my master's program in library science.

Outside a cat cafe in Odaiba
May 14, 2010: Outside a cat cafe in Odaiba

At Inari shrine
May 18, 2010: At Inari shrine

In the rain at Hikone castle
May 22, 2010: In the rain at Hikone castle

At the end of the year we drove to New York during the biggest blizzard in decades to celebrate New Year's Eve in Times Square.

At the Nintendo Store
December 28, 2010: At the Nintendo Store in NYC

Inside the Statue of Liberty
December 29, 2010: Inside the Statue of Liberty

In Central Park
December 30, 2010: In Central Park

At Times Square on New Year's Eve
December 31, 2010, 11:51 PM: At Times Square on New Year's Eve


In summer we traveled to Philadelphia for the Special Library Association's annual conference. That December I completed my MLS and finished writing my first novel, Bubbles Pop.

Working on couch with Luna
April 13, 2011: Working on the couch with Luna

In front of the Liberty Bell
June 16, 2011: In front of the Liberty Bell

Eating Philly cheesesteaks
June 19, 2011: Eating Philly cheesesteaks


I self-published Bubbles Pop in January, and then I started my first post-MLS job in web development and graphic design. I drafted more than half of a historical novel set in Victorian times, but I realized the book wouldn't work. The realization was both sad and fortunate—at least I didn't embarrass myself by publishing it!

Cover of Bubbles Pop
The book that probably shouldn't have been published, Bubbles Pop

Cover of A Heart Unspotted
The book that never was, A Heart Unspotted


I landed a sweet full-time job as a systems librarian in Portland. After spending the summer by the lake with Sweetie's dad Who, we headed west to start our adult lives proper in a fancy-schmancy townhouse with two floors, a wood-burning fireplace, and pansies on the porch.

Outside our Portland townhouse
April 12, 2014: Outside our Portland townhouse (because we didn't take pictures in 2013)


I completed and queried the original version of my comedic novel Kagemusha. My parents visited Portland and probably soaked in more rain than they'd seen in the previous thirty years in Southern California.

Gifts from my parents
June 3, 2014: Gifts from my parents


With great courage and tenacity, I survived an introductory drawing class. I extensively researched and outlined a Chinese steampunk fantasy trilogy, which eventually became the plan for the visual novel that will be my magnum opus. (I'm still not ready to tackle it yet, but I'm working toward it!)

A self-portrait I drew in drawing class
March 5, 2015: A self-portrait I drew in drawing class


The older of my two brothers visited Portland for the Chinese New Year. (More accurately, he visited the area for work, but the trip conveniently happened to be during Chinese New Year.)

A floating dragon at the Chinese garden in Portland
February 13, 2016: A floating dragon at the Chinese garden in Portland

In spring Sweetie and I bid farewell to gloomy Portland skies and relocated to sunny Central Oregon. To our excitement, our rental duplex had a garage and a grassy backyard.

Rainbows in our first backyard
July 25, 2016: Rainbows in our first backyard

Sick of shopping for ill-fitting clothes, I picked up sewing. I also wrote most of my cozy mystery Whacked in the Stacks.

My sewing buddy
November 5, 2016: My sewing buddy

Cover of Whacked in the Stacks
Cover of Whacked in the Stacks


In April Who passed away. Sweetie spent two months in Indiana to settle his affairs and sell his manufactured home by the lake.

Who's house
May 26, 2017: Who's house

Fish in the lake
May 26, 2017: Fish in the lake

In June Sweetie returned for our wedding at Mirror Pond in Bend, where we were married by a judge holding an elaborate tome of The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide.

Our wedding ceremony
June 20, 2017: Our wedding ceremony

In August Sweetie built us custom PCs, and we watched the total solar eclipse from our backyard.

My complete custom box with RGB lights
August 12, 2017: My complete box with RGB lights

Watching the solar eclipse
August 21, 2017: Watching the solar eclipse

For Christmas that year Sweetie gave me a big surprise: a digital piano! I began my annual tradition of making holiday music videos.


After ten years shackled to leases with ever-rising rents, we bought our first house. I spent most of that summer covered in paint.

Painting the kitchen
May 13, 2018: Painting the kitchen ASAP before our bamboo floors were installed

Free from landlords with a legal right to evict me for making excessive noise, I picked up the flute again.


During an unexpected snow week in March, I finished what I consider my best novel to date, Lizzie Bennet's Diary.

Cover of Lizzie Bennet's Diary
Cover of Lizzie Bennet's Diary

In July I visited my family in Southern California, the land of ten million restaurants and unbelievable traffic. I came home with a suitcase full of new clothing and yummy candy.

My parents' xeroscape garden
July 5, 2019: My parents' xeroscape garden

In addition to my ongoing sewing, music, and house projects, I spent a good chunk of the year writing the second version of Kagemusha. It has the same basic premise as the first, but a radically different tone and plot. The draft is about halfway finished now, and I hope to complete it in the first few months of the new decade.

This brief overview in attractive photos doesn't fully convey the most significant change for Sweetie and me between 2010 and 2019: our vastly improved quality of life.

In 2010 we were poor college students playing video games on a fire-damaged couch in a one-bedroom apartment located in an increasingly unsafe part of town. We could travel to Japan only because of a generous gift from my grandmother. When we stopped by that cat cafe, we saw an early model of a Litter Robot and thought, "Wow, look at the crazy things rich people can afford."

Litter Robot in the Odaiba cat cafe
May 14, 2010: Litter Robot in the Odaiba cat cafe

A decade later, we are those rich people, playing video games on a made-to-order power-reclining couch in our colorful suburban ranch located in an increasingly desirable neighborhood.

Luna playing in her new Litter Robot
March 7, 2018: Luna playing in her new Litter Robot (the litter is fresh)

I'd like to say we clawed our way up to the middle class through hard work, strict budgeting, and tenacity, but that would be only partly true. We're comfortable now because Who was there to give us cars during school and a furnished room when my full-time job search dragged on and on, and because my parents were there to settle the debts I racked up in those difficult early years. Our home-owning dreams came true so quickly because we qualified for the USDA and Oregon Bond programs. Without support, we would have needed a second decade to earn the privilege of covering ourselves in paint.

Here's to another ten years of fun times and good fortune. Happy New Year!

Xmas toast 2012
December 15, 2012: Holiday toast in Bloomington, IN

Xmas toast 2019
December 26, 2019: Holiday toast in Redmond, OR


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