This past year has been a slow whirlwind of new experiences.
I began taking Mandarin language classes this past summer.
I got engaged and married this spring.
Leo and I traveled to Mocorito together and he met all of my extended family.
Leo brought home the tiniest kitten, that recently, now aged 5~6 months, scratched my eyelid quite deeply. Who needs double eyelid surgery when a kitten can give you a triple eyelid in a split second.

I didn’t make this purchase myself, but Leo bought a TV, and it’s fabulous. Watching things on a bigger screen, with better sound to boot, is always a plus. He also purchased a PS4, so now we have the beginning of an entertainment center. Do we need a stereo? That would be exciting… with a record player, yeah! So I can finally listen to my Toe album I purchased when they played here in Taipei.

Omg, I also finally splurged on a phone- Google Pixel2 XL, and I’m glad I did! Totally worth it. My last phone (purchased Nov. 2014) was bugging out so much it finally just died. I was able to hold out for a few more months with a borrowed phone until I purchased my current one. It’s like day and night! My old HTC M8 was so buggy and the battery life was so atrocious that it would shut off at the 40% mark. It would reach 40% within 2-3 hours of it being on and usually without any help from me. It lived off an umbilical cord, permanently plugged in to an external battery. Poor phone.

Last October, Zoe and I took a ONE DAY trip to Osaka! It was a fun and slightly crazy experience. We purchased our tickets on an afternoon, left to the airport that evening, flew to Osaka that night, slept a bit at the airport in the morning, and then off we went! We returned on one of the last trains to the airport, slept a bit there before our flight back, and we returned early in the morning, in time for a shower and then off to work I went.

This past April we also took a trip to Vietnam. We spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, ooooooh the coffee :), and met up with a few friends of friends.

In May, Leo and I traveled to Mocorito, where we spent around 5 days. We were there for Gonzalito’s wedding, and we took advantage of the trip to tell my parents that we had also gotten married, albeit a few weeks earlier and without ceremony-only civil marriage license. During the same trip, we stayed at Mikey’s house our last night before flying back to Taipei, and it was so much fun and funny. Also, his mom is so sweet and nice!

Friends have also come to Taipei! Mfon and Jared came last September and Nestor came last November. And Salty’s coming this upcoming February!

I’m still working at the same place, but I’m thinking of giving my notice soon. I’ve definitely gotten my rhythm down, I have my lesson plans and timing down, and the way I teach has improved vastly… but I would like a change. I know that it’s nice to have this security and nice people to work for/with, but I don’t always want to play it safe. I want to take some time off and enjoy Taiwan (and abroad) a bit more without worrying about having to take time off, finding substitutes, etc.

Also, since I began my Mandarin classes, I would really like to dedicate more time to that.

My Etsy stationery shop has been going well! I was able to purchase my new pocket phone with the profits as well as purchase gifts throughout the year for friends and family.

Although I am not struggling (too much), I do think that Mandarin classes are very demanding, and if I could just focus on that and that alone, I would be much happier.  I think if I quit my job and only studied, I would be willing to take the Intensive Class. At the moment, I’m taking the regular class which covers about a chapter in the textbook a week, 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. The intensive class would cover 1-2 chapters a week, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. I do think I would die a little doing the intensive class, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

I think my pronunciation has improved so much, and I love being able to read more characters and understand what people are saying. Of course, I can only understand really really (really) basic Mandarin at the moment, but even that is awesome! I can’t see the finish line (I don’t think learning languages… or learning for that matter, have finish lines), but I can at least tell I’m on the proper track.

My first teacher was an interesting character, super nice and helped us learn a lot of supplementary vocabulary, but I never felt that my pronunciation was being corrected, and learning the grammar was difficult because it wasn’t really expanded on, apart from what was already in the textbook (not enough). I felt that my classmates where there to just enjoy their time in a new foreign country and not really dedicating themselves to properly focusing and learning.

My second teacher was as different from my first teacher as could be. My classmates where also quite different. This teacher really pushed us and helped us learn the grammar, corrected our pronunciation, and made us try out our new found skills with many exercises. All of my classmates were amazing, I was definitely in the bottom 3. But this definitely motivated me to learn and keep up.

My (current) third teacher is quite nice, but I can see her struggling with some of my current classmates. It was glaringly obvious the first day of class that a few of them were going to have a lot of issues. For some reason, although we are all supposed to be at the same level, they were struggling to even understand simple sentences, their pronunciation is all over the place and their character writing is also lacking. Last semester there was one classmate whose pronunciation was quite bad, but he made up for it with understanding and going beyond what the teacher taught.

One day, I came home and heard something that sounded like a rat or mouse in Leo’s room. I looked in a little round box and found the tiniest kitten! Leo named him Maceo and he’s adorable… but he definitely doesn’t like to cuddle. He’s around 5-6 months now and he’s big enough that he and GB play together and he recently learned how to jump up to the roof of the house (no bueno!).

GB finally began gaining weight, a combination of the “good” food and lack of exercise. She’s mellowed out a lot but she’s still her adorable self. She was so afraid of Maceo the first few weeks we had him, but now she loves to play fight.

Oh, and the saddest news: La Kitty passed away a week or two ago. :'(

I got engaged and married this past spring! Leo proposed during my birthday weekend and in April we bicycled over to the city hall and signed the paper work. We haven’t had, and I don’t think we will, a party, which I’m kind of OK with. I like the idea of a wedding party, but I really don’t want to plan anything. So much pressure. I’m a lazy bum.
I love my husband <3.

While Leo was traveling in the US (LA/NYC tour), I got to practice my scooter riding skills, and I must say, I improved quite rapidly. It helped that I went outside of my comfort zone and rode around the CITY (scariest experience this year). I finally got comfortable making U-turns, riding slowly (always more difficult than riding fast), and parking the scooter using the center stand (I used to find this so difficult to do!).

My brother recently moved to Wisconsin and his little family just recently joined him as well. My parents must be so lonely with no kids or pets, or grandkids around. I must a bigger effort to call them more often, I really am quite awful at calling people and keeping in touch.

With that last thought, I think it’s time to make a phone call.

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