New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is a quiet affair in our house. Natalie is sick so our plans are simple—a Star Wars marathon, and watching whatever fireworks we can see from our patio. We eat leftover tikka masala, dipping beautiful pieces of roti into the red sauce as Han, Luke and Leia race across the galaxy to fight the empire. Darth Vader stalks them at every turn.
Star Wars this year feels a bit heavier than usual. With the passing of Carrie Fisher and the release of Rogue One, the Star Wars universe feels graver. There’s a realization that the wild adventures of our heroes is only one aspect of the story, that there is grief and sacrifice and loss woven into it as well from both the on screen characters and the actors that portray them.
Also, Darth Vader was totally toying with Obi-wan and Luke when he fought them. Toooooootally. Vader is a scary monster again.
At 9PM we start hearing the first fireworks. Like excited kids, we run out onto the patio to see if we can find them. But the fireworks are teasers and after a minute of waiting for more fireworks we go back to our movies. The fireworks continue to tease us the rest of the evening. Every time I hear a boom and realize that the accompanying flash didn’t come from my movie, I look out the window in time to see the fading embers of a firework in the sky.
At 1130PM we realize that we didn’t buy anything to drink or toast with. We settle on cups of water, that we clink together when the countdown reaches zero. And that really kind of sums up 2016 doesn’t it?
The Good Things of 2016
It’s early in the morning of 2017 as I’m writing this. Not much noise coming from the neighbors. Natalie is sick and sleeping in, so I have the morning to myself to write.
There’s been a big wave of “Man, 2016 was a bad year,” floating around the internet. I’ll admit, I contributed to it in my own way. 2016 WAS a challenging year both mentally and emotionally for us. While it’s easy to look at all the negatives, I want to take a moment and review my year for all the positives. In no particular order, here are some of the awesome moments of 2016.
Sharon Morgan and Chandler Warnick visit us in Boston
We’ve had only a handful of friends come and visit us in Boston in our five years there and it was truly amazing to host these two wonderful, dear friends (plus it gave me a chance to show-off the beautiful city of Boston and all the useless trivia, history, and facts that I’ve learned about the place over the years). We traveled up to see the foliage change in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, wandered around the city of Boston, and spent many, many hours talking and making beautiful new memories. (And Sharon, I knew you hid sand in the back of the car after you picked up those shells)
Movies with Erin Reed
We had a lot of dinners and movies with Erin this year and we mourned for weeks when she moved to Ohio (to work for NASA!). Natalie and I could (and would) talk to Erin for hours and hours on end. Somehow we don’t have a picture of just us and her, but we have a lot of memories of watching movies with Erin. I can’t tell you how nice it was to watch space movies like The Martian and Interstellar with a rocket scientist? Dr. Reed (Sorry, Erin, I love saying it) provided a lot of fascinating insight into the science and behind the scenes of space.
Fourth of July
The Fourth of July we drove up to New Hampshire to go on a hike with Winry. Small town fourth celebrations are often more entertaining than the parties in the big cities. We lit off fireworks in an empty lot only to be told we were trespassing. Whoops. The Indian Head Hike was Winry’s first hike (and ours too in a loooong time) and we thought to go on an easier path. Well as luck would have it, we ended up taking “the back way” up the mountain instead of the normal trail and it really kicked our butts. Winry was fine with the hike but I think after a few days of being in the car and overwhelmed with a ton of people, she was irritable. When we finally returned home and we traumatized her again with a bath, she was exhausted, collapsing in a heap by the door and snoring loudly.
Training Winry was at times an exercise in frustration in a year where my temper kept getting shorter and shorter. But there were moments where it really paid off and I felt like we bonded a little. I taught her to play fetch at least (even if she later learned that if she never brought the toy back, the game would never end. Brat.) There were a few moments though where Winry and I would watch the sunset together and I was quite happy to have a dog. She still likes Natalie better. Sigh.
Dim Sum lunches with Jerry Hsieh
Jerry and his wife Aimee were some of our best friends in Boston, Jerry listened to me whine and mope about a lot of stuff this year and was a big part in getting my head in the right place. We had a lot in common. We were both only children that married into large Caucasian Mormon families. It turned out that I served my mission in his hometown, and that I actually knew his parents. Jerry was the driving force of the Chinese group and tapped me on the shoulder to help out early on. He worked across the street from us downtown and we had more than a few dim sum lunches to hash out career plans, life plans, and what we were going to do in church. (You know how dudes are. Somehow we never got a pic together but he’s in a lot of these photos here)
Watching the Chinese Group Become a Branch
In 2014 the Cambridge Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formed a Chinese group in the Kendall Square area for the Chinese speaking members of the New England area. In two years our sacrament services grew from a handful of members attending, to more than 60 members attending. I’ll never forget those lonely services in the long months of the summer of 2014 where there were only seven of us in attendance (the branch presidency—Jerry, Alex, and I—and two sets of missionaries). To be able to witness the growth of the church, to see how magic can happen when you get the right people together was truly a blessing.
Update – I actually forgot to mention that I graduated again. But this was a good memory, even if I was dying of allergies again. In fact it was a strange feeling of deja vu–similar overcast day, dying of allergies and holding a scowl that was meant to keep a sneeze in at all costs.
Vacation to Miami
Our fifth wedding anniversary we traveled down to Miami and spent five days sitting at the beach doing nothing. I read, Natalie watched people and the oceans and we ate waaaaay too much candy. Much thanks to Anthony and Olivia for watching the dog while we were away.
Natalie’s Chinese Cooking Skills
On the trip to Miami we discovered an Asian Fusion restaurant in our hotel that captured Natalie’s imagination. When we returned to Boston, Natalie managed to find a cooking blog of famous Asian dishes and I’ve been eating like royalty ever since. Natalie has always been a good cook, but this took her skills up to a new level.
Bar Harbor, Maine
After five years in the New England area we finally made it to Acadia National Park. This one has long been our New England bucket list but because of weddings in September or school, or other prior obligations, we’ve never been able to make it up to Maine. A very last minute decision to go, we were totally unprepared for the weather (I even left my glasses in Boston). When we left Boston it was in the high 70s, low 80s but Bar Harbor was much, much cooler than that. And of course, like a true Lee family vacation, it rained (which made the park so much more magical in my opinion).
Starting a website with Tyson
Tyson Stevens is an old bboy friend from college. He helped put me through grad school by giving me freelance work. In 2016 we decided to start an accounting website with an eye towards helping new students begin their accounting career. (A lot of thanks go to Tyson for helping me realize that I actually like writing about accounting more than doing the compliance side of accounting.) Speaking of writing, thanks to Filip Matous for his encouragement and confidence in my writing skills.
Photo shoot sessions with Jay
I finally got to do a bboy photoshoot session this year thanks to the help of the amazingly talented Jay Liu. After swapping notes we decided we were going to do it, and managed to get some amazing shots in the Leather District of downtown Boston. Later on he did a few family pictures for Natalie and I. Overall, a really great experience and a sweet memory.
Moving to the Cayman Islands
It’s hard to write about this one because this one is still ongoing. It’s equal part an amazing opportunity and terrifying prospect. Every day I look out the window and see palm tress and I’m filled with awe that we actually packed up our whole lives and moved and shock that we actually packed up our lives and moved. We struggled so much with trying to figure out what our next step in life was after Boston. While we still don’t know where we will end up after our adventures here, we certainly could have picked a much worse place than the Caymans to postpone our decisions. Thanks to Dan and Olga for making the transition to island life a lot easier.
And of course last but not least—I started writing again. I originally started this blog as a way to cope with work, a creative outlet and a way for me to write about leadership and EQ topics that I find interesting.
When we decided to come out to the Cayman Islands, I added the “Offshore Accounts,” a travelogue of sorts based on one of my favorite books, Four Seasons in Rome. Anthony Doerr wrote a memoir of the year they lived in Rome, combining his unique and breathtakingly beautiful prose with their experiences into a wonderful read that made you feel like you were there. I’m hoping that I can bring some of our Cayman experiences to life in a way that he did. Aim high right?
Here’s hoping that 2017 is an even better year for all of us.