crossing into a new year

Yes, I caved and bought Animal Crossing, like many of the humans in my life at the moment. To wrap up the year, here’s a brief snapshot of where my island is at currently.

Citrus Island’s native fruit is peaches (yes, I did indeed decide to pick the Citrus name even after seeing the peaches growing on the tiny digital trees—to be fair, the second fruit that my island bestowed on me was actually an orange, so that was cool). The higher cliffs of the island are bursting with windflower blooms (they look like poppies, which makes me extra happy as a California resident).

I began the game with humble tents and an inaccurate hairstyle. My first self-imposed goal was to sell enough weeds to buy a wetsuit. For the next week, diving into the ocean to catch sea creatures became part of my pre-bedtime routine.

About a month into playing, I unlocked the ability to summon dirt out of thin air and build cliffs. My town hall/plaza area is right near the airport, and I was determined to hide it behind some pretty waterfalls and flowers (pictured are just a couple lilies and windflowers, but since I built these cliffs the flowers have really bloomed up there). I also was extremely delighted when I found out that giving my villagers lots of gifts would eventually let me convince them to peddle good hydration habits.

Overall, I’ve been more focused on curating a strategically nature-filled island than paying off my home loans to a certain conniving raccoon, so my house just has the front room, a back room, and one side room, but I do really love the little office I created. The most exciting find was 100% the big bookshelf (a girl can only dream).

The museum is what originally drew me to Animal Crossing—especially after spending a summer working alongside natural history museum curators, I was very ready to collect and donate species on species of insect, fish, and deep sea creature (not to mention the fossils I dig up every day… the number of repeats I’ve gotten at this point…).

As a forever fan of coffee and jazz, I felt the absolute need to create a little lighthouse cafe from which to gaze at the ocean and ponder earthly existence. Following this creation, I spent an unnecessarily long time building out a boardwalk along one beach. There’s also a little pizza restaurant at the end of the boardwalk (ft. my friend Rory)!

Otherwise, I like to spend my time shaking trees, building terrible snowmen, planting copious amounts of flowers in an attempt to breed new colors, and giving my villagers ridiculous pieces of clothing to see what delightful things they say in response. Little projects I’m working on currently include building an apple orchard (for those Fall VibesTM even though it’s now officially winter), fleshing out my shopping district and boardwalk (and keeping the rest of my island super natural and outdoorsy to satisfy the hiking itch on days I can’t actually get outside), and finally shelling out enough money to upgrade my house because I’m running out of storage for all the random items I’ve accumulated over time.

Some things I did in 2020 besides play this video game:

  • completed two online quarters of school (one of which was my last fall quarter in college ever—only two more to go!)
  • lots of camping, hiking, tidepooling, and jumping into the nearest ocean (including finally swimming with leopard sharks after literal years of talking about it)
  • visited one new aquarium (hello, Aquarium of the Pacific)
  • started writing another book!
  • played a respectable amount of Catan with my housemates (no, I did not win every time as I so proudly declared I would when we first began)
  • went through a lot of ups and downs with my dear car… but she still thrives on today, thankfully
  • almost met my goal of writing at least one blog post per month (I’m forever learning how to reprioritize and adequately rest when life is especially hectic)
  • presented my research at a conference for the first time (and submitted a presentation for another coming up in the new year!)
  • lost access to my Instagram account of 6+ years because a bot was impersonating me and reported me as an impersonator…
  • watched Over the Garden Wall for the first time (and then the second, third, and fourth)
  • stumbled on lots of great new coffee shops (and the best place for a breakfast burrito in possibly all of Southern California)
  • sent lots of snail mail to friends near and far

Some plans for the new year:

  • finish the book I started (and write the next one that came to mind in the original brainstorming process)
  • finally go through the backlog of texts and emails crowding my inboxes (the shift to digital-everything caused a bit of a jam)
  • continue journaling more! (it became more of a mental obstacle for me to regularly journal once quarantine began for some reason, but I’m hoping to get back into a good rhythm)
  • along similar lines, write down ideas before I forget them (working on techniques to combat my goldfish brain)
  • graduate college!
  • keep learning forgiveness and how to let myself enjoy every single moment, even if they’re not the “productive” ones I may have envisioned (including those of the restful playing of a certain outrageously adorable video game)

Thanks for following along with this chaotic (sort-of) island tour, and happy new year!

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