2018 in review
Well, 2018 has come to a close. This year, I became an aunt to an extremely cute little guy, kept a sourdough starter alive, co-organized a panel discussion on reproductive health, rights and justice, and traveled to Japan, Vancouver, Ohio, Indiana and Utah for the first time. I’ve now lived twenty-five years on this Earth – that’s prime time for a quarter-life crisis, no? But while there were (many) moments of doubt and uncertainty, I think that on balance, I’m a better version of myself than I was on December 31st, 2017. In last year’s recap, I focused on my cooking, reading and writing – I didn’t publish any writing this year (boo!) so I’ll focus on the former two and throw in a little update on work while I’m at it.
From left: Red (Wine) Velvet cupcakes, Brown Butter Buttermilk Cake
I tried fewer new recipes this year than I did last year – just 51, compared to 93 in 2017. See the full list here! That’s in large part because so many of the things I made for the first time last year have become staples, and also because I ate out a lot more towards the end of the year when work got busy. I did branch out a little beyond my favorite recipe developers and discovered some new inspirations (in particular, Alison Roman’s contributions to the New York Times and her wonderful book, Dining In.)
I still rely heavily on the favorite recipes I’ve mentioned in the past (here, here and here) but here are a few more I’ve fallen in love with this year: the chickpea soup and chickpea curry from Small Victories, the Brown Butter Buttermilk Cake from Dining In, the dead simple roasted strawberries that Stella Parks shared on Serious Eats (pro tip: serve these with vanilla ice cream for the easiest dessert when hosting!), Stella’s amazing Red (Wine) Velvet cupcakes and Cinnamon Rolls from Bravetart, and Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen. I have only made it once so far, but I have a feeling Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew is going to hit that list very soon. See here for the full list!
From left: Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake, Cinnamon Rolls
In 2019, my cooking goal is to put the giant collection of cookbooks and cooking equipment I’ve acquired to much better use. (I’m looking at you, pasta roller and pizza peel!) I also took a fun sourdough class at Sour Flour in the Mission a few months ago and have yet to use my starter for anything but sourdough pancakes. (Which are delicious! But still – watch this space for bread.)
In June, I moved on to a new role: I’m now an account manager on the partnerships team at HealthSherpa. That means my day-to-day work now involves connecting folks to Marketplace (i.e. Obamacare) health insurance coverage. It’s been a big shift: away from reproductive health, away from academia, towards an entirely new industry and faster-paced projects.
Still celebrated #ThxBirthControl day at the new gig, though!
While I do miss working on reproductive health issues day-to-day, I’ve relished the new challenge, and my policy nerd side has loved getting up to speed on the nuances of the US health insurance industry. Plus, if I do my job right, I contribute to thousands of people getting quality health insurance coverage, which is deeply meaningful to me.
2018 also saw me making a little more of a concerted effort to improve my data analysis skills. I was lucky to have the chance to work on some bigger projects using Stata during the early months of the year, took a weekend bootcamp in R with Software Carpentry (organized by the UCSF Data Science Initiative), starting attending R-Ladies SF meetups, and met a number of women in the field who inspire me at the amazing Women in Analytics conference. I’ve barely dipped my toes in the water here, and I’m excited to take some bigger steps in 2019.
I read 57 books in 2018, and these 15 were my favorites.
Last year, I said my goal was going to be to read one book in Portuguese and one in Turkish every quarter. I failed miserably at that, mostly because I’m a pretty fast reader in English and get frustrated easily when going at a snail’s pace in other languages. I didn’t take many notes on the nonfiction I read, either. I got pretty close to the number of books I read last year – 57, versus 60 in 2017 – which I’m pretty proud of, given that I now have far less commuting time to kill.
Last year, most of the books I read fell under the broad umbrellas of “social issues” and “self improvement”. In contrast, this year I read far more fiction, and more memoirs, too. I think that’s partly a function of my brain being more fried at the end of the day – reading went back to being an escape rather than a means of challenging myself, as it has been in recent years. I missed out on a number of books simply because I didn’t have the energy to tackle them during my usual reading times (i.e. before bed, on planes) so in 2019, my goal is to prioritize actively reading, taking notes on, and applying lessons from great nonfiction on weekends when I’m fresher. In the meantime, click here for the full list (with recommendations + top 14 marked.) If you have a Goodreads account, you can see my bookshelf here.
Happy new year, everyone – and here’s to a great 2019!