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 the most emotional live sporting event experience of my life so far. It may have had something to do with the brutal heat and potentially being dehydrated, but I remember tearing up 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.

So last Friday, David and I met up with Varm at SFO and a few hours later we all landed in TEXAS ready for fun-and for Jackie, getting iced with a Peach Bellini, courtesy of Jeremy’s airport pickup service.

Armed with restaurant recommendations from Brad and Kelleen, we started the trip with late night tacos and margaritas at Velvet Taco, followed up with a Pimms Cup at Monks Ale.

The next day, our food tour continued in Deep Ellum, and I was determined to see if the BBQ at Pecan Lodge lived up to the hype.

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(We’re smiling because we’re seconds from placing our order after a half hour wait).

SO worth it. The last time I had BBQ any where close to Pecan Lodge was Ironworks in Austin. 100% worth the wait and hype.

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Full of BBQ, it was time for tailgating. It’s been seven years since my last proper tailgate, and the parking lot at Cowboys Stadium was a good followup to years at the Rose Bowl. Bruins travel well-the tailgate was full of alumni. Taryn planned an awesome afternoon and it was great to see her in her element-hosting, organizing, photographing, and making sure everyone was having a great time:

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As far as Cowboys Stadium, in summary-glad I saw it and it’s an impressive feat of engineering and architecture. It’s also terrifying. I felt like I was entering the Hunger Games as we ascended to our nosebleed seats. And yes, the screen is just as unreal as everyone says. You totally end up watching that the whole time.

Our seats were definitely in Hill Country, which meant that most of the game I was surrounded by very happy Texans, sandwiched between two sad (and kind of bored) Bruins.

And then, in the last few minutes, it all turned around! Very happy they pulled it together at the end!

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Sorry for the cheese, but it’s absolutely exhilarating to be surrounded by so many happy Bruins. As we left, there was a massive impromptu dance party celebration on the lawn outside the stadium, and again, cheesy, but it felt like being back in college:

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Thanks to the time change + awesome company, we stayed out wayyyyy later than usual exploring Dallas AND it’s magical late night food-pad Thai! How genius for a Thai restaurant to stay open till 3 am? It hit the spot.

Sunday morning, Kelleen generously picked us up from our hotel and we spent the afternoon laughing and relaxing at their house. Kelleen and Brad just adopted Remy, a beautiful lab. Brad made a delicious southwest brunch, complete with perfectly spicy-and well timed-Bloody Mary’s.

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It was pretty special to see some of my UCLA and Bmore favorites all in one weekend.

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This weekend should be much quieter-I’ve got about 50 pages to wrap up Middlesex tonight before my first book club tomorrow. Excited for Greek food + book chat :)

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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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Weekend: Settling in to Oakland

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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.

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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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Guy takes a two week vacation-

-and ends up with 15,000 children.

Did you watch 60 minutes last night? 24 hours later, I’m still awe struck by Sir Nicholas Winton’s incredible story.

At Christmastime 1938, Nicholas Winton cancelled ski trip in Switzerland to help his friend with a humanitarian project in Prague. Through creativity, and the motto that “if something is not impossible, then there must be a way to do it,” Sir Winton single-handedly figured out a way to transport 659 Jewish children from peril of Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia to safety in the UK.

The story alone is incredible-Sir Winton was knighted and essentially saved 15,000 lived (the children and descendants of the children he saved).

Even more remarkable? He continues to do good-at 105.

Unbelievable. Sir Winton’s been instrumental in the development of Abbeyfield senior communities and he just keeps going.

A truly beautiful story and an incredible life.

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Friday, 9:00 pm

It’s 9:00 on a Friday night and…David’s asleep on the couch and I’m on Facebook/Instagram. PARTY ANIMALS.

Since this is shaping up to be a quiet weekend (and I’m actually prettttty excited about that) just wanted to remember some highlights from last weekend.

After an awesome event at Huddle Friday night, with bellies full of breakfast quesadillas from Mi Ranchito, David and I hit the road for Irvine Saturday morning. The drive was easy until LA/OC, but eve that wasn’t terrible. We spent the rest of the weekend just relaxing with my parents and enjoying good food.

We went to an Angels game:

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(Would have been awesome if we were Angels fans but they crushed the A’s, much to David’s dismay. The hot dogs and French fries-and company!-were great)

Spent the afternoon at the beach:

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It was hot! Made the water that much more refreshing.

And explored an awesome new food hall in Anaheim.

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On our first loop through the food hall, David and I quickly vetoed the insane line at Popbar, a Popsicle gelato place. By our second loop, we joined the masses, curious to see if the wait was worth it. Still not sure, but it was a neat concept that I’m sure will take off and be replicated elsewhere. Also-while fiercely people watching/eavesdropping waiting in line, I observed the STRANGEST thing. This woman had her phone attached to a pole that she held out to take selfies. I’m absolutely not judging the selfie (if there’s someone else in it, see above) but this was another level. This woman must have literally taken hundreds of photos of herself-just in the line. Last night I went to dinner with colleagues in SF and saw someone with the phone-extender-pole. Is this a thing now?

Anyway, it was fun exploring a new food place and watching Dad show us around Anaheim and the Lab. On Saturday night we had drinks at Playground after the game, and it was fun to explore downtown Santa Ana with Mom.

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On the way back north, we stopped to check out Grand Central Market. I had heard about G and B coffee and Eggslut and was curious to check it out. The line at Eggslut was INSANE so we settled into a booth at Wexlers deli and enjoyed lox and bagels. The G and B coffee wait was also a half hour, but I braved it, eager to satisfy my curiosity, and craving, for the macadamia almond milk iced tea. It was worth it.

Another week flew by and now-hello, weekend!

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Summer reading reviews

Summer unofficially ended this weekend, and that, coupled with the 10 Books that Stayed with You list circulating FB, is perfect motivation to reflect on this summer’s reading list. In order of most recent to late spring:

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House of Sand and Fog

Ohhhhhh my, I am so happy to be done with this book. The writing is haunting, and it is just gripping enough to make you not want to quit it from the beginning. But the whole time you know it is going to be a difficult ride. A lighthearted look at life in the Bay Area, this book is NOT. The complex back story of immigration and upward/downward mobility kept me going through the haunting and disturbing week in the life of four characters on Bisgrove Lane. I have ZERO desire to watch the movie or relive this experience. I’ll need to watch at least three episodes of Ricks Steeves tonight to make for the mind warping experience of finishing this book.

At least the alternate book cover made me laugh:

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One More Thing

On a completely different note, I finished the audio version of this yesterday afternoon driving back from Irvine. I listened to a lot of it on my own and couldn’t quite get into it. A few stories made me laugh, but I kept wondering how much of it was BJ Novak filling space to make a few short stories worthy of a whole book. I think the trick was listening to it with someone else. David and I listened to the last third on the drive, and sorry for the cheese, but it was much better! It was hilarious. And heartbreaking in its honesty and awkwardness-I still can’t stop thinking about “One of these days we have to do something about Willie.” If I’m having a rough day, I might just listen to “Missed Connections” again-that one made me laugh out loud listening to it alone in the kitchen.

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Barefoot in the Park

Ok, this is actually a play. Some NPR list recommended the full collection of Niel Simon plays when I googled “Audio Books for a Long Car Ride.” This was the first play, and it came on just as we were driving south on the Grapevine. The story opens with a couple in the early 1960s, returning from their honeymoon, to their tiny apartment in a 6th floor walk up, and as Wikipedia says, “learning to live as a couple while facing the usually daily ups-and-downs. Corrie wants Paul to become more easy-going to, for example, run ‘barefoot in the park.'” Laura Linney is the lead, and it was certainly entertaining. I grew up on Nick at Night (if I was at my grandparents, at our house, it was whatever 1950s/60s comedies were rerunning on Fox 11 since we didn’t have cable) so I love this kind of comedy. On the drive back north, David requested no more plays, please. So, an even split of approval at our house :)

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Little Bee

A colleague lent this to me on my trip to DC, so my reading of it coincided with Katie and Dave’s #afrimoon. I had to keep reminding myself, Katie and Dave are in Kenya, not Nairobi, this will not happen to them. I was happy when they made it home safe and sound. It’s clear that the author is also a journalist, as he is so careful with details and facts about immigration and British policy. Like House of Sand and Fog, it’s told through multiple characters. Here, the lead is incredibly heroic and sympathetic. I finished the book embarrassed that I know so little about detention centers in the US let alone in England. Although, a few days later, I was listening to a story about a man who had been released from a detention center, and I found myself much more engaged his story because of what I learned in Little Bee. Again, cheesy, but I love that reading can do that-help me relate to what is happening in the world because I feel more of a connection to it through characters in a story.

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10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Ever Said

This is hardly a book, it’s such a quick read (adapted from a speech), but I loved the author’s advice and anicdotes. Every spring, I love reading commencement speeches, but I must have missed this one from Chris Wheelen in 2011. I actually bought the book last Christmas for an office gift exchange that never happened, and rediscovered it when I was unpacking. The book makes me want to learn more about the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The study followed a group of Harvard sophomores for 70 years (1937-2007). When the director of the study was asked what he learned from all the data, he said: “the only thigh that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” Yes, kind of totally obvious, but helpful to have 70 years of data to back up that priority.

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This is Where I Leave You

The movie version of this is coming out this fall, and the whole time I listened to it (another audio book), I felt like the author was setting it up to be easily adapted into a screenplay. It’s mostly dialogue and is both cringeworthy and hilarious. Another one where you don’t really like any of the characters, but here, their antics are so bizarre and amusing, it keeps you engaged. Really excited for the film.

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Blue Nights

Joan Didion-wow. It took me a while to feel like I would be emotionally ready for these books-I just read The Year of Magical Thinking this winter. That beautiful, true, gripping love story had me feeling everything-one of my absolute favorite books. Blue Nights is also a beautiful, true and heartbreaking love story, and her writing is just incredible. I remember seeing her speak at the Festival of Books at UCLA. It must have been my sophomore year. It was just after Year was released, after Quintana was sick, but before she passed away. I remember thinking Joan Didion reminded me of a bird-you could just see her heartbreak in every sense of her physical self. Her loss is gut wrenching. It almost feels absurd to remark on her writing when she is writing about her tragedies, but her writing is just mesmerizing.

I’m so enjoying reading everyone’s 10 Books that Stayed lists, and thinking of my Fall to-reads. Next up, I need to re-read Middlesex. Heather invited me to her book club on the 20th and this is the book. It’s been nearly a decade since I read it, so I need to re-read. But I might try to squeeze in the new Emily Giffin first. After the roller coaster of Sand and Fog, I need some bubblegum before jumping into 500 pages of Jeffery Eugenides.

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Good ideas observed in Europe

Greetings from the train!

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It’s Labor Day Weekend I’m joining David at a work event tonight in Stockton and tomorrow we’re driving to Irvine. It’s a quick trip-and I’m nervous about the traffic-but excited to DRIVE home. I haven’t been able to do that since college.

Last year, we were in Europe for LDW. I’ve been thinking about that trip a lot this week. Last night I watched an episode of Rick Steeves Europe, just to pretend that it was a year ago and I was preparing for an adventure.

Scrolling through my notes from the trip, I found this list:

Things to take back from Europe:

1) make a pasta salad and have a picnic with wine in Navy Yard

2) have more croissants and pan au chocolate (Trader Joes)

3) take a break for tea in the afternoon

4) more drinking outside

5) sandwiches I want to recreate:

-biscuit, hardboiled egg, cheese and ham
-Swedish: roll, havarti, cucumber, red pepper, tomato
-roll, scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, tomato sauce

6) look for an Indonesian food

7) make porridge-make oatmeal with milk

8) more biking, more walking, more picnics

9) find a good North Indian restaurant

10) find a place that does afternoon tea

11) buy cheesecloth for juicing lemons, eventually get a lemon juicier

We’ve done a lot more picnicking and can check off #11-thank you wedding registry. The others-they make for a good autumn resolution list :)

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Camping was…

Actually, really great! We only camped for two nights and Shaiya basically planned everything, so I can’t pretend it was really roughing it. But we still slept outside, in tents-and it was freezing-there were no showers and we were at 8000 feet, so…definitely camping!

Yosemite was breathtaking. The location was also a first and I could not get over the beauty. Right here! Just a few hours away from Oakland.

Highlights from the trip:

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Our incredible hosts. It was Sachin’s 30th and Shaiya’s been planning this surprise for months. Sachin thought he and Shaiya were going to Yosemite for a few days for a quiet getaway…and then on Friday-surprise! 9 of us showed up to crash the fun. Shaiya thought of everything-the logistics of all of this were impressive. On top of that, she and Sachin cooked all of the meals for all of us. Incredible stews, thai ginger tilapia, bacon and eggs, picnics-really-it was incredible and delicious.

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(Birthday boy making a mean meat stew)

Waking up outside, in the sunshine.

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We camped at White Wolf, and at that elevation the temperature DROPS at dramatically at night. It wasn’t the best sleep, but waking up, unzipping the tent pocket, and peaking out to the trees-a pretty neat way to greet the day.

Shaiya had a fire going first thing in the morning. It was so cozy to just meander over to their camp sight, pour some hot tea, and wake up by relaxing around the campfire, catching up and laughing with the group.

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Cozy Melissa with her coffee :)

YOSEMITE. It’s unreal. I felt so much pride for Janou and her colleagues each time we passed a NPS sign or spoke with a ranger. The park just celebrated its 150th anniversary-and it looks great!

After breakfast on Saturday, Shaiya lined us up into two rows of chairs.
Not Hunger Games-but she was dividing us up into teams…for a scavenger hunt! Despite finishing first time wise, the other team had so many extra points that they won. Bummer. But really, we were all winners (cheese!) because the hunt took us all over the valley. It was an afternoon of jaw dropping views followed by a victory picnic for all:

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(The final clue led us to a picnic area, where Shaiya greeted us with sandwiches and champagne. Really-she thought of everything.)

Swapping stories.

Any venue, trip, or situation, that lends itself to sitting around for hours, drinking wine, and just swapping stories, is pretty much an ideal night for me. And that was most of the weekend. This is a group that lovvvvves
to talk (TGs) and I love to listen. So, that’s what camping is, count me in for Sachin’s 31st.

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Cheers to 32!

These two cuties celebrated 32 years of marriage today:

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Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thanks for all you’ve taught me about love, marriage, and especially laughter over the years. Cheers to 32! I love you!

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Camping-first time

Generally, with any type of travel, I spend hours pouring over websites and blogs, researching, making reservations and planning out the details of the trip. For whatever reason, with this trip, I’ve done none of that. We leave in two hours.

We’re going camping this afternoon-and it’s my first time. In dream world, the weekend would look like this:
camping

But in real world, I only started to think about what to pack last night. And, shocking, our “integrative pharmacy” only sells all natural bug repellent. Here’s hoping the soothing lemongrass citronella balm wards off all enemy insects.* Also, with the move, I threw out all my old sweats and comfy clothes. So, I’ve got a backpack with a sock monkey onesie I won during a white elephant gift exchange, some workout clothes, and some all natural (the pharmacy sells no Purell, but they’ve every item of Say Yes! To Carrots) face wipes.

It’s just two nights. That should be ok, right?

*Mom, our friends who are organizing the trip and generously sharing their supplies, are very prepared. They have Deet. Please don’t worry. The trip is a surprise for a friend, so I was hesitant to write this, but since I’m pretty sure only you and Janou read this, safe to say the surprise is safe*

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