How I Spent My Year 2015

Last year I wrote:

2014 was a pretty miserable year for me. I'm sure one would ever expect it. What people tend to forget is social media is just a giant online highlight reel. There’s a whole 'lotta life that happens in between posts, and for me, it was pretty shitty.

My mantra for 2015 was, "Little acts of courage." Thanks to my therapist and everyone he introduced me to, all of the crap that was weighing on my mind in 2014 slowly eased away. I can't quite say that 2015 was a good year for me, but I can say that it was definitely a better one.

For the thirteenth straight year, without fail, here is my annual survey of how I spent my year 2015.

1. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

  • A little happier.

  • A little less fatter. Can't quite say I'm thinner but I did lose some weight for most of the year. (Gained some holiday weight but that's just seasonal lol)

  • Wealthier. I've gotten a LOT better about cutting back on food expenses and putting money away for savings goals.

2. What other states/countries did you visit?

Mexico on Valentine's Day with Meliss and Steph to visit an orphanage.

Then Vegas a few times:

  • went there to help my parents move out of the Vegas house
  • for my annual "it's summer and my air-conditioning sucks in Cali and I want to play with the dogs and eat Vegas food" trip
  • for Alan's wedding

I haven't really traveled at all these past couple years. I thought I was done with that phase, but this year it seems like EVERYONE has visited Japan! Aileen, Kevin, Benny, Krystal and Leejay…

Now more than ever, I want to go on a solo adventure there.

3. What was your favorite film of this year?

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) — "The perfect combination of cute and sexy."

Before We Go — This movie is a little bit of Before Sunrise with a bit of Lost in Translation, both of which are indie favorites of mine.

No Escape — This movie had me biting my shirt for multiple stretches. When I watch movies like this, I'm never focused on the acting; I'm focused on what I would do if I were in their shoes. And this movie had my heart racing as I asked myself, "How far would I go to protect my family?"


  • Furious 7 had one of the best, most meaningful movie endings ever.

  • The Blind Side (2009) was a great feel-good movie for the soul.

  • The Peaceful Warrior (2006) inspired me to live in the moment when doing even the simplest of things.

4. What was your favorite TV program?

  • The Walking Dead
  • Fear The Walking Dead
  • The Curse of Oak Island
  • Humans
  • Modern Family
  • Suits

5. What was the best book you read?

Hmm no new books this past year…

6. What were your favorite memes of the year?

  • #LeftShark
  • #TheDress
  • #ChrisPratting

7. What was your best food discovery of the year?

Loco Moco Poutine at The Kroft!

Also, not nearly as exciting, but drinking protein shakes for dinner were a big change for me this year. More on that later.

8. What was your greatest musical discovery?

No one new but Tori Kelly is just taking over the world by STORM.

9. What were your favorite posts on social media this year?

10. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015?

  • Bebo Norman - I'm Alright

11. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

A year ago I wrote:

...after going to my first business conference by myself, I have a better idea of what kind of grown-up style I want to get into. And to start it off, just a couple weeks ago I got fitted for my first real custom-tailored shirt. If that turns out well, I'll definitely be investing more into it.

Since then, I've gotten two custom-tailored shirts…and I LOVE them. But to be honest, I've only worn them on special occasions. The shit is expensive…

This year, I'm thinking of hiring a tailor to duplicate these shirts but with my own fabrics. Hopefully that'll be more cost effective.

My biggest discovery this year was STRETCHY JEANS. I didn't know these existed for men! I can't pull off the ultra stretchy Jogg Jeans look but I got some designer jeans with just enough stretch to really feel a difference.

Other than that, I'm still in Silicon Valley mode where I'm wearing mostly jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies.

12. What words/phrases/slang did you pick up on this year? Who do you blame?

Hmm no new slang this year.

13. What mainstream trend did you resist?

  • "on fleek"
  • man buns

14. Did you keep your New Years Resolutions? Will you make more for next year?

A year ago, I wrote this:

This year, I'ma get back to giving up french fries (except one french fry cheat day per month), no soda, and minimal carbs for dinner. That was the same resolution I had two years ago and it worked out great; this past year, I caved and gained like 15 lbs, lol.

Cutting on fries got tough this year when I discovered The Apple Pan. It ended up being more like 2-3 french fry cheat days per month…but if it's any consolation, I felt REALLY GUILTY about it.

Giving up soda is really easy.

Giving up carbs for dinner was easy too. I switched to protein shakes for dinner and it's been great! Protein shakes are cheap, super convenient, taste like a milkshake, and have minimal carbs. It's allowed me to save money on dinner and spend a little more on a nicer/healthier lunch while helping me slim down my wallet.

This year, my resolution is to fail more often. Sessions with Dr. Pariser helped me realize that I need to do more than just get out of my comfort zone; I need to fail and get rejected more to learn and grow.

15. Describe a typical day for you this year.

Days that I work from home:

Wake up around 7:30. Catch up on tech news and social media. Breakfast while Dad has quality time feeding Kogi in the backyard. Start working by 9:30. Lunch around 12:30. Work til 4ish. Shoot some hoops or walk Kogi. Catch up on tech news and social media. Chug a protein shake for dinner. Feed Kogi while watching TV. Work. Browse Imgur until I fall asleep around 11:30.

I don't take Kogi to the dog park that much anymore because he only plays in spurts but spends most of the time he just sniffs around.

16. What did you do on your birthday?

Nothing special, really. Country Fried Steak & Eggs for breakfast. BBQ Tri Tip for lunch. Enjoyed the simplicity of taking Kogi to the dog park.

My "celebration" was treating myself to an Apple Watch a month later. =]

17. What did you really want and get?

Apple Watch! As I wrote last year:

When I was little, one of my favorite books at the library was The Usborne Book of The Future, and the most memorable page from that book was about smart watches. I've literally been waiting for something like the Apple Watch for over twenty years.

18. What do you wish you'd done more and/or less of?

Last year I wrote:

Less dwelling and more going out and being happy? This year was a really shitty year for me, frankly, which made it really hard for me to want to go out.

I've been fighting a lot of demons inside me for months, and I may be wrong about this, but I'm trying to figure it out before I put myself out there again socially.

More balance. Normally I like to just focus on one thing at a time, say for example, finances before treating myself before self-development before social life. But what I realized towards the end of the year was that I need to have a bit of everything to be happy. As much as I stressed out about personal finances and my career, I should've spent at least half of my time just enjoying life.

19. Did you suffer any serious illness or injury?

Nothing serious. Just catching a cold a few times and getting sick those two times from not washing my hands before eating, lol.

20. What was the best thing you bought?

Dog Training — Kogi used to play bite other dogs in the face for fun. As a puppy, it was cute. But as he got older and bigger, it started to piss off people at the dog park. Kogi also had a problem of bolting across the street when he was off-leash. It was really expensive, but hiring a famous dog trainer was totally worth it. Now I can walk Kogi off-leash all the time. =]

iPhone 6S Plus — I've always loved my iPhones, but this thing feels like it's so much more than just a smartphone — it feels like it's a powerful miniature computer in my hand. As much as I used to knock on Samsung owners for their phablets, I freakin' LOVE this thing. I do SO MUCH more reading on it and typing is so much easier than ever before. It is seriously the perfect medium between a smartphone and a tablet, and I'll never go back.

My Apple Watch is a noteworthy candidate, but right now it's more of a very nice luxury as opposed to an essential device like my iPhone Plus.

21. Where did most of your money go?

Mostly food, again. But I've significantly cut down my food budget this year from $30/day to $17ish/day. This allowed me to budget aside for fun money and me time.

22. Which celebrity/public figure(s) are you crushing on?

  • Taylor Swift — For someone as big as her, she does some AWESOME stuff on social media and real life to connect with fans. Also, when she published an open letter to Apple to stick up for the little names in the music industry, it showed me that this girl's got a good heart and a good head on her shoulders.

  • Anna Kendrick — Forever love her cuteness and self-deprecating humor.

  • Alice Eve — Her performance in Before We Go just won me over. And the way she's able to switch between California Girl and Australian accent just blows me away.

Also a little crush on Kate Mara.

23. What political issue stirred you the most?

Donald. Fucking. Trump. This motherfucker is the White ISIS.

24. What did you do to further your career this year?

I built my first portfolio site:

The whole year, I was looking slowly looking at other opportunities. I found a few really good ones…but didn't work out. I gotta keep pushing though. My current situation is not doing anything to help me improve my portfolio or grow as a developer.

25. Did anyone close to you die?

No one this year, thankfully.

26. Did anyone close to you give birth?

omfg, so many babies this year. I know I'm missing more but a few friends off the top of my head:

  • Meliss had a Back to the Future baby, Isaiah
  • Phoebe and JP had Macenzie
  • Kris Mark has Avery Skye
  • Wilson and Ehmiley had Andre

27. Without giving names, did anyone do anything really disappointing? What did they do?

Towards the end of the year, dealt with someone who is definitely in need of some help. They're definitely in a position where they need help and support, but their attitude towards me and the people around them just wears out everyone's patience. Give this person an inch, they'll demand a mile.

28. Who did something worthy of celebration?

Lots of weddings!

  • Alan and Liz
  • Cathy Nguyen
  • Jeremy and Rachel
  • AJ Mariano
  • Kris Mark
  • Hilary Brown
  • Chrizle
  • Cristina Blake

And of course, all of Tori's accomplishments as she's finally making her voice heard across the industry and the world.

29. Who did you miss?

BTVfam and all the epic memories we made, 2008 - 2011.

And after Alan's wedding, I really want to do another reunion with all the UDH crew.

30. Who/what kept you sane?

Dr. Michael Pariser. More on him later.

31. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

  • Completely switched from Gmail to iCloud. Never thought that would happen but Apple's integration with everything just won me over.
  • First time volunteering! First was visiting orphans in Mexico with Meliss and Steph. Second was helping out at a food bank.
  • First time getting professional help.
  • Joined my first martial arts class! Wing Chun Temple.

32. What date/moment from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

When Dad had to be rushed to the hospital and things were looking bleak. Michael flew down from Seattle so the whole family would be together. We stood in a circle with Dad and prayed.

It really started to hit me that that week could've been it.

33. What's been on your mind this year?

  • Live in the moment. This has been a mantra I've been adopting since 2014 but after watching The Peaceful Warrior (2009), I really started appreciate even the simplest of moments.

  • Should I look into buying a house/apartment in the next few years even though I'm still single? If I get a house, how many bedrooms should it have? Or if I buy an apartment, does that make sense when I want to eventually a house?

  • What do I need to do to grow as a developer and further my career? I've hit a dead-end with my current situation. What do I have to do to get myself out of the marketing industry and get into the tech industry?

34. What was your biggest failure?

I'd rather call it an obstacle than a failure, but the fact that I've hit the ceiling with my current job position and I'm having a really hard time trying to get through/around it.

35. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being in a job position where I'm getting paid my worth and I'm surrounded with a team who all share the same values as me. It sucks really hard to get paid to do sloppy "quick and dirty" work when I know I can bring so much more to the table.

36. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Mustering up the courage to accept the fact that I need professional help. This process took me YEARS, but it's help me so much.

Thanks to Samchy, Cynthia, and Chris for inspiring me.

37. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Nope. I just focused on myself and the few friends that I really care about.

38. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Last year I wrote this:

No. Until I figure myself out, I'm totally incapable of loving someone else right now.

That was rather harsh but that's how I felt. This past year I've been focusing on loving myself and being authentic with others. It's a long process but baby steps is better than no steps.

In the meantime, Marichris convinced me to join OkCupid, lol.

39. Which new person made the biggest impact on you this year?

Dr. Michael Pariser, my therapist.

A few years ago, Samchy told me I should consider getting professional help. Because the same way that professional therapy is needed to heal the body, the mind/spirit sometimes need professional therapy to heal too. I sat on that idea for a long time, mainly because I felt that getting therapy was admitting that there was something wrong with me.

It took a shitload of strength to admit I needed help and a shitload of courage to do something about it.

Thanks to Cynthia, I got that little bit of inspiration to finally seek help, which lead me to Dr. Pariser.

To be honest, my year was pretty uneventful…but everything I learned from Dr. Pariser helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

40. Tell us a quote or song lyric that sums up your year.

Bebo Norman - I'm Alright:

I've got a little hope in my pocket, I want to share a bit with you
Just be careful that you don't drop it, but don't worry if you do
'Cause I got broken down inside me, and I might just need some help
But I will get by

41. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

All of my growth this year can be attributed to Dr. Pariser.

"Little acts of courage". Thanks to Dr. Pariser, that has been my mantra this past year. Courage is not a feeling or a characteristic that someone possesses. Courage is the physical act of doing something you've never done before.

"You are already dead." Another pearl of wisdom from Dr. Pariser. This is based on Bushido (Samurai) teachings with the idea that you should relieve yourself of the attachment to any outcome. Live life with no expectations and you will be able to live without fear; you will live in the moment. If I were a Samurai about to go into battle, the idea is, "I am already dead, so I might as well give them hell and go down fighting."

Be more authentic. When I disagree with something, speak up. When someone does something that hurts, speak up. Don't be passive and don't be aggressive — be assertive. Life and relationships get so much easier when you have the balls to say what you really believe in. "If you could speak your mind knowing none of your friends will love you less because of it, what would you say?"

Stop trying to manage other peoples' feelings. Don't keep secrets from people because you're afraid the truth will hurt them.

42. If you could go back in time to exactly one year ago, what would you tell yourself?

Dear Mel January 2015,

I know you are struggling. I know you feel lost. I know you feel weak.

Don't worry because this year, with the help of others, you will figure things out. Just open up your heart and let go of the idea that asking for help means you are weak.

43. What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Looking forward to growing in my career, failing more, and taking more chances.

Also looking forward to my new Wing Chun classes to exercise my mind and body.

44. If you could talk to your future self one year from now, what would you ask/say?

Hey Mel 2016,

How's Dad doing? He's still in the hospital right now but things are looking a lot better for him.

How's you career going? I feel like I've outgrown my current situation so I've spent most of the year looking for greener pastures. Right now I'm thinking I might have to take a half-step back in order to take a few steps forward in the future.

For the past year, my mantra has been "little acts of courage," and my new years resolution was to fail more. How'd that work out for you?

For most of the year, I found myself being negative and annoyed at everything vs. past years when I was always grateful and looking for the humor in any situation. That's exactly why I cut back on posting to social media. And it sucked. But I think I've got my head on straight again. Recently I find myself smiling and laughing at life's simplest pleasures again. I hope this continues to grow.