Year in Review: BYE 2016

I've said, written, and tweeted this so much: 2016 was a weird year.

There were the ominous signs of the apocalypse: acts of terror at home and in the world; the exposed hate brought about by hard and necessary conversations starting to be had in media and society; Brexit; the Election (in the U.S.); the loss of so many beloved icons.

There were the positive things as well: all of the amazing travel I did; the friendships I deepened; new projects; so many people I know had years of personal growth and triumph - new businesses, self-care, marriages, new deals, babies; diversity issues coming to the forefront; Hamilton winning all the awards; all the good geeky things - like Wizarding World, SDCC, a new Star Wars movie full of space baes.

Whatever it was, 2016 was a year we couldn't say goodbye (and good riddance!) to soon enough. But like I said above, there were good things about it too. So, I'm reviewing the year behind and looking forward.

My best 9 Instas of 2016 - mostly outfit posts!

  • Girl gangs: New Year's gathering, brunches, The Force Awakens in 4DX, karaoke, and general fun times with my favorite girls kicked off 2016.
  • Geekery: Picked up a bunch of Star Wars and Hamilton things - sometimes they were even mash-ups. The Hamilton love was going strong.
  • Petal Drop LA: a temporary art installation/exhibit where petals rained into an alley in the middle of Los Angeles. Needless to say, it was a kind of magic.
A video posted by Catherine (@catherine) on

  • Nerdcoolture: Interviewed by Marlon of Nerdcoolture about what fandom is. This was our first meeting and would lead to the nerdy travel series we'd collaborate on later.
  • Family Trip to AZ: We drove to Sedona, where we took in the stunning red rock formations, the clear, clean skies, and went on our first helicopter ride. We also drove up to Flagstaff to catch a tour out to unspeakably beautiful Antelope Canyon and breathtaking Horseshoe Bend.

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherine) on

  • Geek hang-outs: explored LA with my gals at the FIDM movie costumes exhibit and Break Bread modern art show.
  • V.E. Schwab: Finally met Victoria Schwab on her book tour for Book 2 of her sweeping Shades of Magic fantasy trilogy. She's an author whose books I love and whose work ethic is so admirable. Bonus- I put together one of my fave Jordandené outfits to date.

  • Harry Potter Wizarding World: We heard the Wizarding World had a soft open ahead of its grand opening in summer. So we took an early trip to Universal Studios and lived our magic dreams and got sugar-drunk on frozen butterbeer!

  • Cherry Blossom Festival: Descanso Gardens with the Con Squad
A photo posted by Catherine (@catherine) on

  • Loki's 4th birthday
  • Bookstagram: I started a bookstagram account for book pics only - @threadedpages
My Best 9 bookstagrams from 2016

  • Jordandené x Hamilton: A fave geek-lady-run business, Jordandené, started doing shirts of the month in 2016. For April, Jordan asked me for help with picking a Hamilton quote. Our brief collaboration resulted in a great Schuyler Sisters shirt & an OOTD post from me!

  • Coachella: We hadn't planned on going, but the Sister won tickets. So we went off into the desert and had a lovely, music-filled weekend. In some ways, I enjoyed this year's trip more because I wasn't suffering from "desert sickness" aka relentless allergies.

  • Desert pit-stops: We always say we're going to do side-excursions but never do. This year, we made it out to Desert Christ Park after reading about it before Coachella. Out in Yucca Valley, the park contains crumbling statues of Christ and the Apostles. It was a cool site to visit because it was a little eerie in its disrepair under a blazing blue California sky. The Sis and I walked around, had a snack, and spotted a real life roadrunner here. And we stopped at the Cabazon dinosaurs, of course.

  • Book releases: Online writer friend Jessica Love had her solo debut this year (IN REAL LIFE), and we finally met IRL, despite the fact we don't actually live that far away from each other. The Hamiltome is finally out!!
  • Goats in the cemetery: Sis and I happened to see goats at a local, historic cemetery, and they were there to clear away the grass.

  • YALLWest: My first book convention (not counting the LA Times FOB) and it was so fun - but especially because I got to hang with book/writer friends and to meet online friends IRL.
  • Beyoncé: This was life-changing, which sounds like an exaggeration but not really. Not only is she an incredible performer, but the entire experience was just so affirming and empowering. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan or anything, but I might be now?
A video posted by Alice (@girlontheroam) on

  • Marvelous events: Captain America Civil War! Blackmilk Sample sale!! A friend's quarter-century birthday, hiking with Loki. Seeing Sarah J. Maas on her ACOMAF book tour.
  • Rhysling nomination: "ACTAEON" was Rhysling-nominated in January & put into a book!

  • NOLA: First time to New Orleans and first time traveling with the Con Squad girls. It was a great time! Food, history, music, beignets, swamps, thunder storms, walking tours, tarot. I was told I might be psychic! I also met one of my oldest online writing friends!
A photo posted by alice (@akangaru) on

  • Exploration: Giant inflatable bunnies of INTRUDEla, Outlander costume exhibit, learning more about the tarot, trying out SoulCycle (Hamilton themed, of course)
  • Hamilton at the Tony's: we had a Tony's party to cheer on Hamilton & to see their performance of course. We baked cookies and dressed accordingly. They, of course, swept their awards categories. Rise up!
  • Beach movie: Star Wars - The Force Awakens at the beach!
  • Voted in the CA Primaries
  • A Geek's Guide: One of my fave books of 2016, A Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, was published this month. I loved it because it was light, fun, and takes place at New York Comic Con. It was the perfect read leading into San Diego Comic Con.
  • Found out some good news from a close friend. ;)

  • 4th of July: Saw the Rose Bowl fireworks for the 1st time & they really are HUGE!
  • SDCC - outfits: Upped my geeky outfit game with less graphic Ts and more casual cosplay (best Loki look to date). I sort of actually did my first cosplay ever on accident (Rey - I built a staff and everything), and that was fun! Also, nothing to do with me, but seeing Hamilton cosplayers was maybe my fave thing.
Elliot from Mr. Robot and Loki
  • SDCC - friends: the best part of Comic Con is always seeing and spending time with friends! Con Squad was in full force, but it was also Gennia's first time there. I got to see Natasha's adorable family, writer/book friends, meet online friends, celebrate the successes of nerd friends (Tony of Crazy4ComicCon's mens fashion line- Hero Within- launch!), and of course, make new ones!
  • Harry Potter: While I ultimately was not a huge fan of The Cursed Child, I couldn't resist going to a midnight release party with the ConSquad girls.

  • Birthday: I turned 30! It was not super exciting, minus the part where friends got me an annual pass to Universal Studios. More Wizarding World! More butterbeer! Grateful to know these beautiful people.
  • Nicole's Wedding: honored to be invited to our friend's wedding, which was just the sweetest!
  • Loki's 1st Beach Day: Took Loki to the beach where he had the time of his life trying to take on the ocean!
A photo posted by Catherine (@catherine) on

  • Summer fun: chilling in the pool on giant unicorn and gummi bear floaties; getting obsessed with The Black Tapes podcast; falling in love with Riz Ahmed in The Night Of (and now in Rogue One & rapping a verse on 1 of the best tracks of the Hamilton Mixtape "Immigrants); putting together & blogging about geeky summer outfits.

  • Celebrations: made a special trip to a cutesy cafe that relocated further away from us to celebrate a friend's birthday; celebrated the Sister's birthday w/ dinner & then a free fancy brunch with the parents down in San Diego. We recreated our old Hannibal pic from SDCC 2 years ago.
  • At Home with Monsters: Guillermo del Torro's exhibit at LACMA featuring items from his personal collection was fantastic - full of creepy, eerie, funny props and art from both his movies and others. This trip with the Con Squad girls ended with Pokemon Go hunting at the La Brea tar pits and pie-eating.
  • Poetry sales: After starting the year strong in terms of poetry writing, I felt discouraged by Fall, thought I might be a one hit wonder. But the universe has strange timing, and I found out over one weekend that I sold my 2 favorite poems of 2016 - "Susurrus" and "Skin".
  • Labor Day Weekend: Busy weekend! Visited the Getty Museum with the parents to see the Dunhuang Temples exhibit & imitated some art. Saw John Williams conduct at the Hollywood Bowl with Con Squad and lit the night up with lightsabers.
  • Book Club: I joined a new book club/ podcast called Books & Boba, which is committed to reading books by AAPI authors. Join us!! Oh, and my comic book interest is real & growing.

  • Got politcal: urged people to register to vote; wrote letters to women in NC urging them to vote Dems; got angry over whitewashing and white-savior-ing in Hollywood & diversity growing pains in publishing; wanted to smash the patriarchy.
  • Fun stuff: Went to a Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them live event; Disneyland for Halloween for a final check-in at the now-gone Hollywood Tower of Terror ride; Bon Iver at the Hollywood bowl; dinosaurs at the LA Zoo!
A video posted by alice (@akangaru) on

  • Good news: One of the most dedicated writers I know, Julie Dao, landed a huge 3 book-deal, and I couldn't be more excited for her. I was lucky enough to have read the book that will be her debut, and it is a sweeping Asian-based fantasy. I can't wait for the world to read it!
  • Happy mail: apple cider donuts from my Fall angel Tracey; a signed copy of Goldenhand from Kim; scrabble pendants featuring Rey from Celeste; Darth Vader rings from Syl
  • Halloween: the Sis actually went to Germany for the end of October to see her favorite soccer team; Loki's Poe-ki Dameron costume was featured on starwars.com for Halloween Pet costumes; I put on 2 versions of my Rey costume (grey vest & arm warmers from ElhofferDesign!) & made Loki my BB-8! And hey, I found out later, I won a gift card for our Star Wars Halloween pic!

  • The Election: We all know how disappointingly that turned out, but I won't deny how exciting and electric it felt to be in New York City on Election Day. It felt like history was happening in Manhattan. We were so proud to have been able to vote for a qualified woman for President.
A photo posted by alice (@akangaru) on
  • New York City: Got to see Sarah G again, and while the night we spent at her place turned out to be bittersweet because of the election, it's always nice to see long-distance friends. My Founding Squad made it out and we had fun despite everything. Crossed a few things off my NYC list like seeing a talk show taping (we saw Eddie Redmayne - and then saw a Newt Scamander cosplayer at dinner later!), go to the NYPL, stand on the NY Supreme Courthouse steps a la Law & Order & every other crime procedural set in NYC. The Sis and I finally made it to the Cloisters and saw the stunning Unicorn Tapestries.

  • Hamilton: The Sis and I had our Hamilton 3-peat and saw our favorite A. Ham (Javier Muñoz) perform again. A bunch of our friends saw the musical for the first time and were not disappointed. I finally got my Hamilton sippy cups. 
  • NYC- History nerding: My friends indulged my history nerd touring of the city and helped me both "steal" the Declaration of Independence Constitution and find the Hamilton statue in Central Park.
A video posted by alice (@akangaru) on

  • Morris-Jumel: The Sis and I visited Morris-Jumel Mansion aka Aaron Burr's house and were delighted by the history and finding that the guide there that day was also from Southern California. He gave us a discount on admission and everything.
  • Sucky thing: I lost my phone at the Met on the last day of my trip and that sucked. :(
  • Meeting people: made it to Nilah's picture book launch party (How To Find a Fox is the cutest!); stopped by ElhofferDesign's pop-up shop & bought a bunch of goods for gifts & met Catherine in person - before that, bought myself a Loki dress over Thanksgiving.

  • Holidays- friend time: KKBQ and matcha soft-serve with ConSquad; Wizarding World in the cold and hot butterbeer (so delicious); the new musical Amélie (starring OG Eliza Hamilton, Phillipa Soo), brunch and gift exchange with my best girls; monthly geeky lunch with writer-friends - so grateful to have gotten to know Sarah and Maurene (and the not pictured Kirsten) better over this past year!

  • Loki meets Santa: We took Loki to meet Santa and got a picture!! Also, have to share his many holiday outfits because he's so cute!

  • Rogue One: what can I even say? Another Star Wars movie in December; what a time for geeks to be alive! While I wished there was a little more on the character and front-end pacing side, Rogue One was great - inspiring, heart-wrenching, and thrilling. It's a story that puts the unsung heroes of any struggle front and center - and it goes a step further by putting a woman and POC men forward as stars and heroes. It left me quietly devastated but also filled with hope - the touchstone of the movie.
  • Carrie Fisher: we lost many beloved celebrities this year, but to follow-up the loss of George Michael on Christmas with the double whammy of Carrie Fisher and then her mother, Debbie Reynolds, the day after felt like 2016 had really crossed some kind of line. Celebrities and icons always mean different things to different people. I'm not normally too affected by them, but this one hit me harder than expected. RIP.
  • Holidays - family time: chatting with visiting family; Xmas Eve at my cousins where we did arts & crafts, played White Elephant, and delighted my little cousin by gifting her with a wand (she just started reading Harry Potter!).
  • Disney Holidays: we volunteered at a Disney 5K in January, earning a 1-day hopper pass. We cashed it in for the holidays, so that we could bid goodbye to our favorite ride, The Tower of Terror. We went right after Rogue One, so we had to see Chewbacca & we finally got a pic with a stormtrooper. Plus, Disney is always at its most enchanting during the winter season.

  • Misc. December fun: decorating xmas cookies at Gennia's (we were really nerdy this year) & opening presents; the arrival of "this is fine" dog; seeing my college-roomie Michelle; geeky decorations; writing really late holiday cards; buying a new tarot deck.

A photo posted by alice (@akangaru) on

So that was 2016 for me, which was generally awesome. You can't really tell that the world often times seemed like it was on fire when viewed through my personal lens, which is why I say last year was weird. There were so many ups and downs.

I know that 2017 isn't going to be easy either because of all the things happening or potentially happening in my country, but at least the new year gives us all a marker for turning over to a new page. We have a chance to get our bearings and find our footing. The theme for 2017 is vigilance and resistance. Rogue One is timely because it gave us this: Rebellions are built on hope.

And to echo my Hamilton closing from 2015, "Rise Up!"

P.S. I've chosen my Word for 2017 and will link here when the post goes live next week.