The Ruby Ronin’s 2019 Year End Roundup

The Ruby Ronin’s 2019 Year End Roundup

Tulip Festival March 2019

Happy 2020 everyone! While this post is very tardy, I will reply with the age-old excuse: better late than never. And honestly, no one probably gives a flying crap about how my life went in 2019, but I like to write these kind of posts for myself. It’s always interesting to look back on my year-end summaries and see just how much my life has changed in 2, 5, and even 10 years (wow, this blog is so old).

Compared to my whirlwind life in 2018, I have to say that 2019 was much more “calm”…. and that’s exactly what I needed. It’s been the year to sit back and settle down (somewhat), and figure out my place in life in this new city called Portland, Oregon.

The Year of Little to No Blog Posts

Mary was like a lazy kitty this year….

I think in 2019 I posted a total of 4-5 blog posts. I was absolutely awful. Work consumed my life, my father’s health took a nosedive, and I still tried to travel as much as possible. I kept telling myself these were the reasons I couldn’t write, but in the end I realized they were just excuses. Like anything in life, we have to prioritize what we do, and I have to put more emphasis on this blog. I don’t write this blog for money or fame, and there are times where I wonder why I even update this thing. However, over the 2019 holiday season I realized I do it for one reason: I love to write. I love, love, love to write, and if I don’t have this as medium, my skills as a writer are going to go down the drain (in fact, they already have). So, here’s to writing more.

The Year of Spain … ?

The stars aligned and destiny said: Mary, 2019 is the year you will go to Spain not once… but twice!

Prior to 2019 I had never set foot in Spain and, while I wanted to go, the country wasn’t exactly a priority on my travel bucket list. My trips to Spain became a reality through a combination of affordable tickets, sunny weather in winter, a famous dining and wine scene, rich culture, and mutual friends who wanted to join us on the journey.

Roman ruins in Tarragona

Like almost everyone you know, I went to Barcelona (it’s such a trendy place) in February 2019, which was (even in winter) still bursting at the seams with tourists (I don’t even want to imagine the city in the summer months). While the city was a bit crowded for my tastes, I really enjoyed the small Catalan towns nearby, such as Montserrat, Girona, and Tarragona. I spent my birthday in Tarragona and it is one of the most memorable and peaceful moments of my life.

Just one part of the Alhambra in Fall

Again, thanks to affordable flights and awesome weather, husband and I went to the Anadalusia region of Spain in November 2019. The unique arab-hispanic culture of the region really wowed me, and the Alhambra is hands down one of the best places I’ve ever traveled to (I would rank it in my top three).

I really like Spain. It’s easygoing, peaceful, and the people are so relaxed and friendly. There is little to hate about Spain, it’s just a wonderful country… but that said, I will take a Spain break in 2020. I think it’s time for a little variety.

The Year of Learning French (dear god why)

Pre-fire Notre Dame

In an attempt to 1. make friends because I work from home and live in a new city and 2. keep my brain cells going, I decided to learn French at the local Alliance Francaise.

You may be thinking “Mary, you literally just wrote a whole blog post about how much you love Italian, why the hell are you studying French?” You know what, every week after French class I ask myself the same thing. This language is really hard and it’s downright frustrating for people who don’t have the francophone love. I’m an Italy loving girl studying French.

However, I chose French because 1. there is an Alliance Francaise here (no Italian equivalent) 2. 80% of my relatives live in France and 3. it’s an overall more useful language. While there are times I want to throw my French book out the window and scream “je deteste français!”; there are also moments where I am grateful to study the language. Yesterday I was able to read my family’s online group chat in French without the use of google translate, and I felt like I was finally making progress.

So, here’s to French. I’m in too deep to quit now.

The Year of my Belated Honeymoon

The Island of Vis in Croatia

It only took two years, but I finally went on my honeymoon. 2017-2018 were hectic years where husband and I moved more times than I can count, so when 2019 came around we said: enough. Time to go on this damn honeymoon.

Husband and I took a trip to Italy and Croatia for two glorious weeks, and both countries did not disappoint (even with record temperatures and crowds of people). As I posted earlier, I have loved Italy from afar since high school so going there was a personal dream of mine. I don’t know if it’s pure bias, the ambiance, or what; but I loved Italy and I’m ready to go back ASAP.

Oh yes. And Croatians are without a doubt the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Plus the beaches are phenomenal.

The Year of Work Sucking My Soul

A real-life photo of me after my work project was over

My job is remote and extremely demanding. This year was even worse than the year previous, as my boss assigned me (alone) to plan and execute a large-scale project that took 8 months to plan and 80 hour work weeks. There were many nights where I was so stressed, I was ready to pop open a bottle of wine and chug (I may not have gone to that extreme, but let’s say much wine was consumed). I was often too anxious to sleep and wake up the next day, because I simply just wasn’t ready for the stress.

Luckily I survived the project and it was a success, but boss said he would like to do the exact same project in 2020. I’m already feeling the PTSD and fatigue of a project that hasn’t even started.

Working remote + no colleagues + executing large scale projects alone = Mary losing her mind. Is this the new way of work? Cutting labor to one individual and assigning them a few high-tech tools so they can somehow do the work of what would have previously taken ten people? Why, yes, I think it is.

I want to believe there is work out there that is not soul sucking, but based on conversations with friends, it seems like work is something that exists to give us stress and make us miserable. Hopefully I can find an opportunity in 2020 that will provide some more joy in my life.

The Year of Portland, Oregon

Portland when it’s not raining (a rarity)

It’s been almost ten months since I moved to Portland, Oregon. I enjoyed a vibrant spring full of flowers, a cool and refreshing summer of forest hikes with waterfalls…

…..and now I’m drowning in a wintery sea of gloom and everlasting rain.

Despite the utter lack of sunshine, I am learning to love Portland more and more. I love the city’s walkability, the friendly folks, the charm of its local boutiques and bakeries, and the nature that surrounds it. Although I’m still without friends, I’m starting to (somehow?) meet a few people and become more proactive in the community. It also feels great to be in one, rooted location where I can actually decorate my home, cook meals and start a proper gym routine.

I really like Portland as a city (even with the rain), but there’s just one problem….

The Year of Family

… my family is not here. My dad’s health has not been doing as great as previous years, and 2019 really shone some light on how this is impacting my mom in a negative way. I fly to Utah almost every month now to manage my semi-dysfunctional family and relieve my mom of some caretaker pressure.

With my dad’s health declining, 2020 will see many more Utah trips, which has me wondering if Portland is worth it in the end. Since Utah is full of my childhood friends *and* family, it makes me wonder why I’m spending so many weekend nights alone in Portland. Alas, if only my friends and family in Utah moved to Portland, Oregon all would be well in the world.

How about 2020?

Picking the fruit of my hard earned goals in 2021? ho ho ho…

I was strangely thoughtful and pensive this new year, and I think it has to do with the new decade and all. I think I realized I’m not getting any younger and I’m procrastinating on a number of items I should just, well, do. Going to the gym, healthier diet, more frequent trips to Utah, etc.. But most of all, I think I need to write and take care of other important “hobbies” I’ve put on the back burner. For example, I want to write to hone my skills and perhaps even make it a lucrative hobby someday, but I keep telling myself “I’ll do it later.” I realized I’ve been telling myself this for years and I’m very disappointed in myself.

I don’t want 2020 and beyond to continue this pattern. In 2020, I want to prioritize “trivial” goals, such as writing, as they could end up being the most important of all.

So, here’s to a better Mary in 2020! And wishing that everyone has an exciting, fun, healthy, and most of all happy new year.

12 thoughts on “The Ruby Ronin’s 2019 Year End Roundup

  1. I do actually read your posts. I don’t remember if you said what kind of work you are doing, but personally I think you should be a tour guide. By the way, I read the book “Three Body Problem” (sp?) based on your recommendation, and I liked it. I especially liked how the cultural perspective was woven into the story. Thanks for that.

    1. Oh thank you for the support! I will keep writing.

      I would love to work as a tour guide or in the travel industry. I always tell people working for the Japanese government’s tourism bureau was my favorite job of all time. If I could find a similar job in the future I would be a happy Mary.

      Glad you liked three body problem! Did you read the two other books that follow? The second one is great, the third one is meh.

      It’s not China related at all, but “the broken earth” trilogy is fantastic. It’s just as innovative as three body problem. It’s the first series to win the Hugo award three times in a row, and rightly so.

      Thanks again for the encouragement!

  2. The gym and writing are worthy goals, although difficult to sandwich into 80 hour work weeks. I mean, they’re difficult to sandwich into 40 hour work weeks, especially with ailing, aging parents. I’m actually impressed with all you did and feel very much a slacker.

    And the travel! That’s fantastic. Great experiences. Plus, ANOTHER language? I am in awe of all polyglots.

    What kind of writing do you want to do?

    1. Ah I dunno, I met someone in Utah who has a full time job, 3 kids, teaches martial arts and just finished writing his epic fantasy trilogy. Another friend in Utah has a newborn, is 7 months pregnant, was working 2 jobs (as a social worker) and taking night classes to get her counselor degree. When we asked her what she will do when the 2nd baby is born, she said: “I’m going to drop one job and only work 40 hrs per week, but my teacher said I can bring my newborn to class.” I literally wanted to grovel to her on the floor and ask her to teach me how she has such fortitude and energy. After talking to these two friends I just thought: holy shit, I need to get off my ass.

      Haha after learning one language the rest come pretty easily, trust me. French is my first real romance language (since I forgot Italian) and man, I suck. I am honestly the worst in my class–but for me, that’s a good challenge. I don’t want to be the worst so I’m trying harder!!!

      Anyway, I would like to write fiction, ideally!! I think hearing about my friend writing his trilogy and getting it published (it’s in barnes and noble as a real book!!) really made me think that, sometimes, you just gotta write.

      Thanks for the comment Autumn! You’re the best

      1. Yeah, I know how your male friend can write–his wife runs interference for him and handles everything from kids to household. In Utah, there might also be extended family members to help. (No, I’m not bitter.)

        Your friend the social worker is a rockstar, though.

        1. Haha! My friend H said the exact same thing about the writer friend. She said: “Mary, you can do all those things… all you need is a wife!”

          But yes, the social worker friend.. I have no words!

  3. Yay! I thoroughly enjoyed your sharing of life experience in your blog. I approve of your goal to post more often, though I sympathize about the difficulty to keep to a posting schedule. I was getting worried that you had gone offline for good, so welcome back! Maybe for now you should move back to Utah so you can spend more time with the parents, since that would remove the stress of travel. Portland will be waiting for you to get back when it is more convenient. Good luck on the French learning, I took it in high school and don’t remember anything, learning Mandarin pretty much wiped it out.

    1. Aw, it’s good to get comments like this, thanks for all of your support! I have been moving so much I am loathe to move (even back to Utah), but with the family situation I think it might be worth it.

      Oh yeah!? I bet if you started studying French again it would come back quickly. All of my classmates are much better than me, and I can tell they studied French in high school or college and are jumping back into it after a few years (or decades). I am always amazed, thinking: “how do they know all this vocab!?!? that wasn’t in our textbook…!!!”

      Thanks again for the comment, it’s always great getting encouragement to write 🙂

  4. Mary!! I missed this post somehow. I hope you can work a bit less this year!! Sorry to hear about your dad’s health issues. And looking forward to reading your posts about Spain! (I saw you just published the one about Barcelona, will read it in a few minutes haha).

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