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: They are courageous and honest and their story deserves to be heard.

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Yesterday was David’s 30th birthday!


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!


Views of the city from to the top of the island



The Riveria. In the Bay.



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:


Dressing up for dinner the first night at Little Goat


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


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


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


Shopping and exploring Downtown on a perfectly clear Sunday


Taking an obligatory bean pic


Dressing up again for dinner at RPM Italian-DELICIOUS!


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


Walking through Lincoln Park


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:


Gorgeous flowers arranged by Kim’s aunt


The beautiful backyard during the ceremony


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


Spending some QT with these two QTs


KMB killing it during her MOH toast


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.


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.



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.



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:


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:


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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Weekend: Settling in to Oakland


Sunday marks three months of living in Rockridge. Three months since I sobbed my eyes out at BWI after Janou dropped me off, and I thought I would collapse when I saw David at SFO.

From the get go, I told myself-don’t jump to any conclusions till you’ve been there for three months. Wait to really decide on how you feel. I remind my self this after every natural, caring question of “how’s the new place? Do you love it?” And of course, I answer “yes!” And rattle off the “the weather is great! So happy to be back in California, and oh man…the produce.“. All totally true, except maybe the enthusiastic “yes!” I mean, how could you possibly love a place that you hardly know?

Hence the three month rule. Giving myself this grace period really helped me stay in the present (which for the first six weeks was WEDDING, promptly followed by dazed post-adrenaline collapse) and not be consumed with HOLY SMOKES! I live in Oakland! It’s super different. Just wait three months, then see how you feel, I told myself.

Not to say I haven’t had any holy smokes thoughts. It’s a new city, new metro/BART, different environment, and some of it is an adjustment. These small things aside, I’ve tried hard not to extrapolate annoyances into greater conclusions about Oakland, and life here, and if I love it, etc. But it’s been nearly three months, and so I’m thinking about it more and more.

Do I feel like this is my place? Initial gut-check? No. I don’t walk around my neighborhood, or downtown and feel like, yup, this is me, this feels right. Maybe I’ll feel that way someday-but not now.

When I’m home in my apartment, do I feel like I’m home? Absolutely yes. And this weekend, more than ever. Actually, that’s the whole inspiration for this post in the first place.

Since moving in June, we’ve had a grand total of 1 weekend that didn’t involve traveling somewhere or out-of-town visitors. (Photo above from that weekend in Point Reyes-it was stunning). All of these weekends have been AWESOME and filled with family and friends. It’s been a really fun summer. I’m incredibly grateful for everything these few months-being close to so many special people and seeing so much beauty in California. Seriously, I had forgotten just how jaw dropping the natural beauty of the state is. Anyway, the busy fun also means unpacked boxes, furniture in pieces, and just a general sense that we’re not really home.

And then there was this weekend! With no major plans, all the boxes thrown out, and an apartment that has all the essential furniture, it physically felt like home. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but setting up the TV, and then watching 60 Minutes on Sunday night, with Malbec and a belly full of David’s homemade ragu, just felt heavenly and cozy. After not having a TV since March, I’d hoped wouldn’t really care once we set it up again….but I love it.

Sunday was also gorgeous. Ananth organized brunch in SF with Rachel, Adam and Divya, Walking through the city on the way to Park Tavern, I felt a buzz similar to what I’ve felt walking through DC. Grant Street was packed with families celebrating the Mid-Autumn Chinese Moon Festival, and all the beautiful buildings gleamed in the cloud-free blue-sky morning. Knowing I would be walking into a restaurant with some of my favorite friends put an extra pep in my walk that morning. For the first time in a long time, I just had a feeling of walking around and thinking, yes, this just feels right.

Pretty Divya, Rachel and the view from near the Coit Tower :)

In Oakland’s defense, I’ve made a very poor effort to explore on the weekends. I hope to change that this fall. Now that my grace period is over, it’s time to feel settled and get to know and like (maybe love?) this new city.

Either way, sitting here in my apartment, I definitely feel at home. After about six months of packing, moving, and unpacking, being settled feels pretty great.

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