My Year End Recap 2019. Travel and Life.

Travel

This year didn’t find me going as far as years past. That’s totally fine with me, though. I don’t have to go too far to find some of the best food, log some lasting memories, and let experiences build on top of who I am. Given that I didn’t visit any place new this year, I’ll just showcase some of the best food I had in each destination.

Chapala, Mexico

This was my fourth time to Central Mexico, visiting Chapala/Ajijic/Guadalajara and didn’t take too many photos. Opting for just wandering the sleepy little lakeside towns of Chapala and Ajijic and the bustling streets of Guadalajara with my friends and banking the memories. The food in Mexico is otherworldly. Pipiolo has to be one my favorite restaurants in not only Mexico, but in the world.

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Quesadilla with milk still separating from the cheese…

New York City, New York

Last year I went to NYC to visit my friend and with our cameras, we floated around trying to find something beautiful. This year, with our appetites, we floated around trying to eat something interesting (but not too interesting).

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A breakfast chile relleno stuffed with eggs, cheese, mushrooms, and spinach.

San Diego, California

A short trip to visit a friend and co-worker. I was recommended some “tacos” from a shop in Little Italy. They did not disappoint. Since there was a Salt & Straw across the street, I made sure to go (twice). Honey lavender or white chocolate strawberry ice cream, anyone?

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A picture of a few of the “tacos” from Not Not Tacos in Little Italy, San Diego.

Las Vegas, Nevada (twice)

This dessert at Catch in the Aria was unreal. I initially ordered the Sticky Coconut Cake thinking it would be a sad square of coconut cake drizzled in some sort of boring syrup. The entire bar had to stop and admire what was actually set before me. Definitely looking to visit their other locations in Los Angeles and New York City in the future.

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Sticky coconut cake with a chocolate shell around a coconut sorbet with mango creme.
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This is what gratuitousness in a martini glass looks like.

Life

This was a bit of an up and down year for me. Though, I can’t complain. Things have stabilized and I’m just happy to still be better off than most people. A lot of people out there are struggling if not suffering but I’m not one of them. I’m just blessed to be able to recognize that. Aside from a speed bump earlier in the year, my life has been rather good albeit uneventful. Most of it was spent building my bank account instead of building any sort of social media following.

With all the writing, photography, fitness, and work, it’s been hard to keep up but it also feels good to be productive. And I’m only looking to do more and be even more ambitious in 2020.

Photography

Last year I really focused on trying to improve my photography. This year I wanted to strengthen my writing. Even taking it upon myself to craft longer compositions and start writing down any profound thoughts or impactful lines.

I do have another site where I showcase some of my non travel related photography and am trying to blend my writing into it. It’s still under construction as I’m trying to find out which direction I want to take it. Wandering and experimenting is half the fun. I’ll get there someday.

Even though I did take a short break from photography, I still tried to take some beautiful photos. I even took some product photos for a small business I frequent. They’re up on their website for online ordering. I never thought that would happen.

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An enticing photograph of tea topped with cascading sea salt creme.
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Charlotte R. @loveisparis

Music

According to Spotify, I listened to over 71,000 minutes of music when it was tallied sometime towards the end of November. Now I’ve always respected and admired the cleverness of rhymes and lyrics but this year I really tried to understand the complexity of the music, how a certain song was engineered, and how well-written the lyrics were of songs I liked. The more you understand the music, the more you’ll enjoy it. Spotify has to be my most used app, by far.

Books

This year I got back into reading heavily and completed 27 books. It’s been nice to be swept away or affected by a good story or transformed by through-provoking lines. Listed in order of completion, are the books I read this year. You’ll see a few Stephen King books as I wanted to finish the Dark Tower saga and all the books that connected to it before the end of the year. I finished the saga on Christmas day. This coming year, I’m definitely looking to branch out into the works of other authors but will always have a place on my shelf for King and Murakami. Having an affinity for Japanese art and authors, Murakami’s writing always seems to resonate with me more so than anyone else I’ve read thus far.

My favorite titles this year: Frankenstein, Grendel, Wind-up Bird Chronicle, The Talisman, The Wind Through the Keyhole, The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Kafka on the Shore, and A Gentleman in Moscow.

Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut (275 pages)
Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (re-read) – Stephen King (608 pages)
The Talisman – Stephen King and Peter Straub (944 pages)
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles (496 pages)
The Dog Stars – Peter Heller (320 pages)
NOS4A2 – Joe Hill (686 pages)
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (re-read) – Stephen King (887 pages)
The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King (326 pages)
The Great Gatsby (re-read) – F. Scott Fitzgerald (165 pages)
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King (528 pages)
Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley (282 pages)
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami (436 pages)
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (311 pages)
Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King (464 pages)
The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen (382 pages)
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (424 pages)
The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower 4.5) – Stephen King (309 pages)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman (178 pages)
The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (re-read) – Stephen King (736 pages)
The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah – Stephen King (410 pages)
Beowulf (re-read) – (Seamus Heaney) (106 pages)
Grendel – John Gardner (174 pages)
Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King (523 pages)
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (288 pages)
Black House – Stephen King (624 pages)
Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami (611 pages)
The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower – Stephen King (864 pages)
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson (In progress)
Approximately 12,303 pages read.

As a personally enriching, parallel project to my reading, I’m keeping a running list, in a notebook, of words that I come across that I don’t know, or know the exact definition of the word. Even if I could gather the essence of the word from the context, I wanted to know the precise definition of the word. I thought my vocabulary was pretty strong but only after a few books, I quickly found that I have a lot to learn.

Future

As with years previous, I have no idea what 2020 has in store for me. I’d like to continue writing and releasing some of my short stories or longer compositions this coming year. I’d like to keep traveling and visiting with the friends I’ve made along the way. Regardless of the destination. I’d like to keep reading more books, learning more words, and become a better writer. Most of all, I’d just like to remain as blessed as I am. Life is good and hope it only gets better or can at least gracefully roll with the punches in 2020.

Last year at this time I was in Jerome, watching the snow fall from the second floor window of an old hotel as I wrote. This year I’m looking out the 59th floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel in luxurious Las Vegas gazing out at the desert with snow-covered the mountains in the distance. I wonder where I’ll be next December? I honestly don’t know. So here’s to another great and productive year where I hope to have my health, wealth, a warm bed to sleep in every night, and the ability to continue living a life that even Death would regret to take.

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Flamingo dreams.

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