It’s hard to summarize the year because I truly did so many things! If there’s a narrative at all to 2021, it’s:

  • I moved in with my boyfriend in Chicago
  • I saw family and friends I hadn’t seen in a year
  • I traveled around the Midwest to many events

Lots of this was enabled by getting vaccinated and feeling comfortable to socialize and travel. Finally! That’s why this year’s roundup post is extra long. Each and every thing felt important, and I didn’t want to leave anything out.


2021 started off with a new year’s eve party at my parent’s house.

A couple of days later it snowed and we walked around Meadowbrook Park

I saw my friends Ray, Maria, their new baby, and my friend Niels. We talked about missing our friend Kevin who had passed away the year before. Looking back at these photos, it feels like this memory was more than a year ago. This year, like last year, was a bit of a time warp.

Trip to Southern Illinois

At the end of January, my family took a trip down to Galena, Illinois. We saw eagles nesting hiked around.

These pictures look so gray but at the time it felt like the area was quite beautiful! Though I’ll have to come back when it’s green someday.

We saw eagles. The best picture I took was this:

My Dad got better pictures than me. But I beat him at Foosball so that’s what really matters.


I had my birthday party in virtual reality! It worked super well. In VR you can walk around and have conversations of various sizes and it felt like a real party.

The party was mostly my online furry friends! My brothers and my boyfriend joined too because VRChat is playable even without VR.

Various Pokemon and animal avatars in VR

We attempted to sing happy birthday. That didn’t work as well, because the lag from too many people in the same world turned Happy Birthday into an incomprehensible chant. Fun times.

Birthday Part 2

I also had a party with my family. We ordered takeout sushi, had cake, and played an escape room game. We’re pretty good at puzzle games.


The snow. A playground. Trees. It's pretty

I took this picture during a workday. Always good to get up from my desk and walk around the nearby park.

Did anything else happen in February? Probably not. It was mainly working from home and being cold. I played a bunch of Magic cards online. The set was called Kaldheim and it was full of snow themed cards and Norse mythology. Very apt.


I visited my boyfriend in Chicago to look at apartments together. We viewed eight different apartments in a single weekend. It was exhausting.

the Chicago skyline and other buildings scene from a high-rise apartment
Cool view but we didn’t go for it

We looked at a few apartments with Chicago skyline views. Those had tiny sad kitchens. Not ideal since we love to cook together.

One apartment stood out with a nice big kitchen and a sunroom. We immediately applied after viewing it! There was a mini panic moment of going to the DMV to get John’s ID renewed in order to apply (I can’t blame him, I had an expired license throughout a chunk of the pandemic too). Luckily we got him a temporary ID that day no problem, applied and got the apartment.


The highlight of April: I got vaccinated! A close second: the weather got nice. 

Urbana comes alive in April. I remember feeling sad about moving away, right as things were getting nice (and opening up again due to the vaccine). I made sure to spend quite a bit of summer weekend visits to Urbana.


I moved to Chicago! I already wrote an entire blog post about moving to Chicago, so read that for the details.

I don’t live near downtown, I moved to a neighborhood of Chicago called Hyde Park.

blue lake, and the city skyline in the distance
I live a ~20-minute walk to the lake and 7 miles south of downtown.

Hyde Park is where the University of Chicago is. The campus is nice and walkable. My cousins went to that university so I walked around with them and my Aunt who was visiting. They jumped in the lake, but I only put my feet in. Next year I’ll make sure to go for a swim.

Me sticking my feet in the lake
Sunset looking at the city skyline

Memorial Day

John and I spent Memorial Day weekend with a visit to his family in Missouri. Everyone was doing well!

We also met John’s new baby nephew! There was a non-trivial amount of babies happening around me this year.


Downtown makes for the most striking photos so here’s a bunch of photos of downtown I took in June!

Lots of other stuff happened too!


Ozarks Camping Trip

I went on a vacation over the 4th. My friends have an annual tradition of camping in the Ozarks, and I’d been invited in the past. This year I finally joined them. I loved spending the day on the river and then the night around the campfire. The weather was sunny and perfect.

Grandparents Visited

My grandparents visited Chicago. It was fun showing them my new apartment and cooking them a meal there. We went on the architecture boat tour. I hadn’t seen my grandparents in over a year so this was quite nice.

Playing Music

A week later, my band played a gig at the Rose Bowl Tavern, which was the place to be for outdoor music in Urbana this summer. We played there several times throughout the year. Nearly all the live music I saw in 2021 was here.


John and I went up to Wisconsin, to chill with his family at a lakeside cabin. It rained almost the entire time. oh well. Instead of lake activities, we got cozy, played board games, and visited some cute little antique shops.

Wedding Time

My friends Emma and Sven got married back in 2020. They got married in Germany, so while they were visiting the states we did a nice little backyard celebration with them in Urbana.

A bunch of people in a backyard. It's nighttime and there are string lights. Various fancy dresses and suits, but also very casual and colorful

Indy Fur Con

I went to a furry convention in Indianapolis.

This picture captures the furry con vibe – a bunch of people drawing and a bunch of people walking around in giant creature costumes.

I played my violin there! For me, furry cons are where I’m inspired to be creative.

Shedd Aquarium

John’s friends Ash and Taylor visited us in Chicago. We walked around the nearby campus and then took them to the aquarium.

Green campus and my friends

The best part of the aquarium was how air-conditioned and calming it was (it was one of the hottest weekends all summer). Also, the Shedd was one of my first dates with John and this was the first time I’d been back since then.

The cafe in the Shedd has a great view of the city

My summer was full of so much traveling so that meant I didn’t really spend that many weekends in Chicago. Next year I’d like to do more Chicago summer activities.


Gen Con

Me in front of a sign that says Gen Con

I went back to Indianapolis, for another con, Gen Con. It’s the board game convention that I’ve been to since I was a kid. Felt nice to return after it was canceled last year.

Board games at the hotel lobby
My magic the gathering deck all laid out. It has burn cards like Lightning Bolt and Searing Blaze
I upgraded my modern burn deck
A polka band in downtown Indy

Chicago Textile Week

My boyfriend was the curator for an art show. It was very fancy and he put a lot of work into it.


The final weekend of September had amazing weather. I played Chicago-style softball in an “Urbana friends vs Chicago friends” match. It was surprisingly satisfying. The last time I played softball was in high school and I was terrible at it. This time I had an absolute blast. I was extremely sore the next day.

A beautiful day and memory


Lots of travel this month, first with a visit to Urbana for the Folk and Roots Festival, and the annual pumpkin party.

My boyfriend with a hand wagon full of pumpkins, on a driveway.

After all of that, we went to Missouri for a wedding.



In February we learned our family dog Rhapsody had lymphoma (cancer). We did radiation therapy for her at the U of I vet clinic for several months, and that gave us some extra time with her. We had to put her down in November, and I cried a lot.

Our family dog. It's the summer and she's bathed in light. Somehow, the photo makes me said. I think, because it's such a nice photo of her, it seems like the type of photo you'd have to remember a long gone pet.

This picture of Rhapsody in our backyard was taken in 2020. Even back then, I remember looking at this picture and it made me sad. It looked like the type of photo you’d have to remember a long gone pet. It made me realize how old she’d gotten.

My dog playing with a pineapple toy

It was good to have one last year with her. She was 14. She was a very good girl.


We had a nice combo of family and friends over for dinner. This felt like a return to classic Thanksgiving vibes, because in 2020 it was only our immediate family.

I forgot to take a group photo so here’s my plate of food


Midwest Furfest

The Chicago furry con, to round out the year. MFF was John’s first furcon, and it was fun seeing him experience one for the first time.

Lots of silliness, and lots of friends I hadn’t seen in forever. Including friends that I had met in VR but not yet in real life. How unique an experience, to know someone’s voice and character from VR, and then see them standing around in front of you.

Furry rave A++ would recommend

I played in a video game music concert with my brother and a bunch of other musicians! The show is up on YouTube if you want to listen.

📷: Katav

Christmas Time

John and I walked around downtown Chicago and it was slightly snowing. We saw the bean and went to the Winter Market. It was a little too crowded and a little too cold.

I traveled back to Urbana, for my jazz band’s final show of the year. We played music from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and it had a great turnout.

My family hiked around Homer Lake on Christmas Eve. All of December was warm(ish) and Christmas weekend was no exception. We had a nice relaxing holiday with just the five of us.

Looking Back on 2021

2021 was better than 2020 for sure. Getting vaccinated empowered me to do a ton of things this summer and fall. My job is going great and my new living situation in Chicago is quite nice indeed. Feels like a lot of changes happened in one year, even though the year itself sped on by quick.

Flexibility Goal

Tracking my daily stretch routine

My resolution for 2020 was to stretch my hamstrings more. Mainly because my tight hamstring were causing me back pain and I sit all day for my job.

I got really into stretching in the first few months. I used an app called Habits to track the days I stretched.

You can see me slowly lose steam throughout the year. Still I improved my flexibility so I’d say it’s a win.

Looking Forward to 2022

Chicago had a mini snowstorm on the 1st. The first snow this season.

We trekked out to the lake on the 1st and it was an overly ambitious idea

The year is off to a chaotic start too, with the Omnicron variant. I’m trying to remain optimistic, and grateful for all the events I did this summer. Might just have to take it easy this winter.

No Resolution, Only Vibes

I don’t need a resolution this year. Instead, I just want to focus on keeping the vibes good. Keeping the vibes good is important (and takes work).

Still, I do have a lot of random goals and skills I’m excited to improve on:

  • Violin (obviously)
  • Composing and recording music (especially making chiptune music)
  • Singing
  • Writing (blog posts and otherwise)
  • Making websites (not just for work)

But making any of those resolutions sounds overly ambitious. I’m slowly getting better at these things already and at my own pace.

Year – Rounded Up

When I started my yearly roundup blog posts, I thought I was writing them for other people. But now I realize they are also for me. I enjoy reading back on them years later. It helps me remember the specifics. Who I saw, where I went, and what I was thinking.

Thank you for reading, my family and friends, but also hello future me! Hope you hang in there in 2022

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