Quick trip to Chicago

wrote this on the plane Thursday night-
I find consultants who travel weekly fascinating. A few years ago, David’s friend Andrew, then a consultant, stayed with him in Baltimore. He had two suitcases and that was life. He didn’t have an apartment. During the week, he flew somewhere new for work and on the weekends, he’d visit friends or fly to his parents house for laundry. I remember thinking it sounded terribly exciting-Austin this week! Then Denver! New York! Andrew said it was exhausting.

Still, I often wish I could do more work travel. Mostly because I know this is the time to do it-I have no obligations-and also because I actually like the theater of travel.

So, I jumped at the chance to go to a conference this week in Chicago. The conference was eye opening-I learned a lot. In DC I got to go to a lot of conferences and at times they seemed repetitive-a lot of the same info and people I saw regularly in DC. Since I’ve been away from that, I relished the novelty of the sessions and left energized by conversations with inspiring collagues.

Also-it was Chicago! The agenda was packed and there wasn’t time for sight-seeing, but I managed a few glimpses at the city. During a short break, I went for a run along the lake. I started out going north and when I turned around to head back, this was the view:

Stunning.

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The conference hosted a reception in the Gene Siskel Theater and seeing these two faces brought back happy memories. If I picture Sunday nights growing up, I see my mom ironing, managing piles of laundry, and watching Siskel and Ebert. Another reminder of how my incredible mom was always taking care of something.

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The walk back from the theater was beautiful. Those few blocks along Michigan Avenue between Ontario and Wacker just sparkle.

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For probably the first time in my adult life, I forgot to pack yoga pants, so I’m sitting on the plane in a stuffy suit dress and heals. Excited to get cozy and get home!

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Maggie’s Story

I heard something on the radio that a recent poll found that rising rates of inequality is the most alarming problem according to —. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the poll sample. Most Americans? Most liberals? Most seniors?

For me, stressing about inequality absolutely keeps me up at night. It’s scary to think about long-term economic impact if current trends continue. On a more immediate level, I worry about rising poverty, particularly for seniors. Hunger and homelessness is increasing. By a lot. Senior homelessness will increase by 100% in 2050. But no one talks about this.

Last week, I was fortunate to meet a group of people who are talking. Solano County is way ahead of the country in addressing senior poverty. The county Board of Supervisors commissioned a task force dedicated to this issue alone. At an event last week, the task force released their recommendations for immediate action to alleviate the impact of poverty.

In presenting one set of recommendations, a poised senior volunteer spoke to the group. After being introduced as Margret, she laughed and told a story that growing up, upon learning that she shared her name with a young princess of England, she vowed never to go by Margaret again, and everyone knows her as Maggie.

She went on to present the task force’s recommendations on utilizing volunteers. Then she shared, “this matters. It matters to seniors like me. I’m a poor senior.” Maggie is an impressive speaker, and with that statement, the room listened with rapt attention. She continued to explain that volunteering provides seniors with a sense of self-worth, particularly important when poverty robs them of their self-esteem.

Maggie explained that she never thought she would be a poor senior. She hates the guilt she feels when she borrows money from her 89 year old mother for a plane ticket to visit her in a nursing home. She feels equally guilty that she needs her daughter to pay for her gas when she visits her in LA.

Maggie is unique in her grace and bravery in telling her story. But her story is far too common. One in five senior women living alone lives in poverty. They live on less than $12,000 a year. As a recent Bay Area transplant, I honestly cannot wrap my mind around how a senior woman, with high out-of-pocket medical expenses, can possibly live a life with basic necessities on $12,000 a year.

A few weeks ago, four other brave women from Solano County opened up about the reality of growing old and poor in America: http://vimeo.com/m/109467513. They are courageous and honest and their story deserves to be heard.

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30!

Yesterday was David’s 30th birthday!

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This made me laugh-he looks like a kid showing off a prize :). We had a great weekend celebrating. When I asked David what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said: go to Dallas for the UCLA game. And dinner Chez Panise (he was reading Dan Barber’s The
Third Plate). So that’s what we did!

One of my favorite parts of Chez Panise was the seating. We were in the cafe, and the tables for two were set up so you sat next to your date-booth, corner, chair. It meant everyone looked out at the warm, wood paneled, craftsmen room, in the coziest way possible. The food was really nice-just good, thoughtful and simple flavors. It was our first fancy dinner out in a while and it was wonderful.

On Saturday, we had friends over for UCLA house-gating brunch. David made a breakfast burrito bar, I made Bloody Mary’s (and no one drank them! Quite the mimosa loyal group) and it was just fun to host in our apartment. The game was….a classic 2014 UCLA game. We won, but it wasn’t pretty and it was HOT. I had heat flashbacks to the Rose Bowl-2:00 p.m., sun baking, cursing myself for wearing jeans. But it was great to see so many good friends and the Cal Band did a medley of boy band songs, so all in all, a good time.

Saturday night we realized we didn’t have any plans on Sunday. The whole day ahead of us! David wanted to check out Angel Island, so Sunday morning we woke up and went straight to Jack London for the 9:00 am ferry. I hadn’t researched Angel Island at all and didn’t know what to expect. Holy smokes. This place was UNREAL.

Basically, after an hour ferry ride, we arrived in the Riveria. That’s what this felt like. We hiked the island, admired the INCREDIBLE views, and soaked up the sun. I was already blown away by the island’s beauty when we got to the beach. There was a band playing music that Adri once described as Amelie music, and they had Chardonnay, and we sat in the sun looking at the water and the boats, and I could not get over it. It was just amazing. I always got annoyed at smug proclamations from Northern Californians that no where in the world compares, but after Angel Island….I think I get it.

I flew to Chicago for work Tuesday, and though we didn’t celebrate the actual day together, I think the weekend was an awesome way to ring in 30!

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Views of the city from to the top of the island

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The Riveria. In the Bay.

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SF from the ferry

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Sister weekend plus ones!

started this Monday night, finally getting around to posting-

Writing this on the plane, feeling emotional and sentimental after a weekend in Chicago with Janou and Katie.

This spring, when thinking about a MOH gift to Janou, a sister-weekend seemed like the obvious choice. I knew that having a plan to see each other for a fun weekend in the fall would help make the moving transition much easier. After moving, I was also missing Katie a lot and asked if she would join-I’m so happy she agreed!

So, Saturday morning, with Travel&Leisure’s Dream Trips issue and a fancy water bottle in my bag, I boarded the first flight out of Oakland for a sister fall weekend in CHICAGO!

After three days of eating, shopping, a bit of sightseeing and mostly a lot of talking, I’m back on the plan home, after a tearful goodbye at the airport. The trip was simple and restorative-we took it easy and just enjoyed each other’s company. Being with the two of them made me miss them SO MUCH. I thought that the older I got/more I moved, the easier it would be to live far away from close friends. I’m realizing it’s never easy. It just makes me that much more thankful that they made the effort to be here this weekend (and the MAJOR effort to deal with a nightmarish situation at Midway….when I left they were waiting for their plan with an anticipated 4 hour delay).

But, enough sentimentality! I want to remember the fun of this weekend, so here are a few highlights:

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Dressing up for dinner the first night at Little Goat

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Capping off the evening at a champagne bar, dripping with candles

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Sister weekend plus ones! It was great hanging out with Janou’s sweet friend Nicole

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And ending the night snuggled on the couch with pizza and Friends :)

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Shopping and exploring Downtown on a perfectly clear Sunday

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Taking an obligatory bean pic

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Dressing up again for dinner at RPM Italian-DELICIOUS!

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Tea and cake at the top of the Hancock Building in the Signature Lounge

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Walking through Lincoln Park

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After I said goodbye, I checked out my fortune cookie-perfect and true advice!

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Brunch + 3 stages of life

Heather recently turned 30 and last week, her fiancĂ© thoughtfully planned a brunch in SF to celebrate. We sat on the restaurant patio at a long, wooden table, against a pretty ivy wall, and toasted our mimosas to celebrate Heather. As I looked around the patio, I realized we were smack in the middle of a living diorama of our early adult years. The patio hosted three private parties: Heather’s 30th in the middle, sandwiched between a mid-20s birthday party and a 30-something baby shower.

It was hilarious trying to eavesdrop on the other conversations and realize how painfully but sweetly stereotypical each celebration was. At the late twenties birthday party behind us, the birthday girl beamed in her tiara, while her girl friends jockeyed for attention from the few guys by trying to shock them with scandalous hypotheticals during their never-have-I-ever mimosa drinking game.

At our table, the conversation centered on relationships and real estate. The relationship talk centered on wedding plans and recent honeymoons, and online dating horror stories and victories. Peppered in mix were shared grumblings of the rising cost of living in the East Bay, stories of friends who moved away “and bought an estate for the same price as our condo,” and questions of how to maintain the excitement and joy of living in the city, despite its high cost.

I couldn’t quite catch the conversation at the baby shower behind us (I was closer to the bedazzled birthday party) but David reported the group mostly seemed to complain about the heat (it was pretty toasty that weekend). They did appear pretty miserable, which made me sad, because they clearly put a lot of effort into the party. Their corner of the the patio was adorned with Pinterst-inspired blue bunting, blue ballons, blue rocket-ship cupcakes, blue and white chevron straws. (It’s a boy!). They eventually moved to a cooler corner.

It was a delight to celebrate Heather and check out a new brunch place, but also incredibly amusing to notice three little life stages we all represented that afternoon.

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CHIM Wedding

Last Friday, after waiting for traffic to die down, I hopped in my car and drove three hours north to Redding. The destination? CHIM Wedding.

Katie and her best friend Kim grew up together in Redding. I met Kim in 2010 when she was visiting Katie in Baltimore while studying in DC at Georgetown (small world-she and Budak did the same MPP program!). Kim is a blast-from fun times in Bmore, SF, Vegas and Katie’s wedding-she’s just always been one of my favorite friends of friends. When she told Katie about her plans for a backyard celebration, Katie’s wedding logistics antenna went up and she recommended Kim have someone there to help manage the day.

Enter me! Haha-knowing Katie would be in CA for the weekend AND Kim would have an awesome wedding, of course, I was eager to elbow my way into the festivities.

So bright and early Saturday morning, after loading up on bridal party mimosa essentials, Katie and I arrived at Kim’s house ready for wedding prep! The rest of the day was a happy blur of flower assembly, vendor coordination, wedding party management, ceremony timing, reception facilitating and finally dancing! It was a full day and I LOVED it. Kim and Charlie thoughtfully, and laboriously, pulled together an absolutely stunning wedding. From the wildflower bouquets, harvested and arranged by her aunt, to the 250 cupcakes baked by Charlie’s mom, to the HANDMADE pews from wood chopped and assembled by the couple-it was unbelievable. I only wish I had more photos! Here are a few of the highlights I remembered to capture:

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Gorgeous flowers arranged by Kim’s aunt

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The beautiful backyard during the ceremony

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The sun decided to put on a show just before dinner-check out that sunset!

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Spending some QT with these two QTs

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KMB killing it during her MOH toast

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Celebrating the gorgeous bride! How lovely is her dress?

It was an awesome day. I was exhausted Sunday, and enjoyed a quite day. Katie and Dave flew out of Oakland on Monday and so we got the extra treat of a Sunday night dinner all together! It was so, so wonderful to sit around the table, drinking Chardonnay and enjoying Zachary’s pizza, and laughing with our friends. I was so sad to say goodbye, but comforted by the fact I’ll be reunited with Janou and Katie in 8 days!

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Zeke on my mind

Last week, I read the Zeke Emanuel piece in The Atlantic, and it’s been swirling in my mind ever since. Hesitant to get too wrapped up in any commentary, I wanted to write down my initial impressions before reading more.

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Photo from The Atlantic

Here’s what I’ve been thinking…

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Movie Wisdom

This Saturday, I went to the movies. After a an afternoon of delicious Greek food, crisp wine and good book talk, I met up with David and Dave at a bar in SF. Disheartened by witnessing the continued disaster of the A’s, a movie seemed like a good way to drown baseball sorrows. We decided to check out This is Where I Leave You.

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(HollywoodReporter.com)

Two things were great about this movie experience….

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Dallas Weekend

Hello, Friday! Before it’s fully a new weekend, I want to remember the FUN of last weekend in DALLAS.

In 2010, we ventured to Austin for the UCLA-Texas game and it was incredible.

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Second to the UCLA-USC game, beating Texas in 2010 was my most emotional live sporting event experience. It may have had something to do with the brutal heat and potentially being dehydrated. I just remember tearing up with pride when Texas lost their first home game in five (?) years to UCLA.

In 2012, we rented a house in Boulder for the UCLA-Colorado game:

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Not a particularly memorable game, but the trip was a blast and Boulder was gorgeous.

And so last Friday we left for our third trip-Dallas! More below:

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Mama & Obama

Grateful for the Internet tonight for a snapshot of this awesome moment:

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Mom met the President!! Can’t stop smiling when I see this photo.

So proud of Janou and so impressed by her job and the incredible opportunity she had to experience the White House tonight. Amazing!

One more day-making photo:

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