Thanks, Obama

Dear President Obama,

Thanks for 8 years of completely dignified leadership. There’s so much I want to thank you for, in particular, the policies you enacted that impacted me personally. The ACA, first and foremost. The creation of the exchange and the ban on preexisting conditions allowed my husband to take an entrepreneurial leap with a job working to improve an economically depressed city (Stockton). And, when he became very sick in 2015, and we were huddled and scared in the hospital, we just had to worry about his health. We never had to worry about complete economic ruin, as the ACA protects against lifetime limits and caps out-of-pocket costs.  Thank you for all of that.

As I’m now pregnant, I’m grateful my new preexisting condition doesn’t bar me from insurance. On a fun (?) note, it’s nice to not have to add “buy a breast pump” to my pre-baby to-do list, as the ACA requires insurance carriers to provide it. Prior to that, I never had to worry about the exorbitant cost of an IUD getting in the way of my birth control decisions.

Beyond healthcare, when it came time to buy a home, and we sifted through miles of paperwork, as much as I groaned about all the mortgage documents, I felt grateful Dodd-Frank and the stricter requirements on my lender.

Professionally, it’s been an immense pleasure to watch your staff work to improve civil rights for people with disabilities and older adults. When I need motivation, I think of your Labor Secretary, Tom Perez’s energizing speech at WHCOA, reminding us to be like his mentor, a poverty lawyer, and always, always, think about what we can do for other people. The tone you set for the country, surrounding yourself with diverse and thoughtful leaders, was incredibly motivating.

And, because I’m a millennial, and have to turn this into something about myself-with photos!-I’ve been thinking the direct impact moments of your presidency had on my life.

2004: Like most of the world, this is when I first heard of “Barack Obama.” It was the summer after my freshman year, and I was studying abroad in England. Checking an email from my mom, who was avidly watching the DNC, I followed her link to watch the previous night’s speech by a young politician from Illinois.  Wow. Quite and introduction! I was impressed.

2007: I first saw you, in person, at a rally in LA organized by LA4Obama. You had just announced your candidacy, and Jen Tan and I trekked over to some park in LA to see the inspiring Senator. You walked out, into the crowd, on a sort of cat walk, and everyone completely lost it. The charisma and dynamism was obvious, and I was Team Obama right away.

2008: At this point, I was deep in the law school bubble, and missed a lot of the campaign furry. I do remember election night-I had a vicious cold and all I wanted to do was drink and celebrate. It was an odd time-a few weeks earlier, a professor made us watch footage of Lehman Brother’s employees leaving their building, signaling the economic collapse, warning us the world would never be the same. And it wasn’t. You brought hope at deeply troubling time.

2009: Inauguration time! I so desperately wanted to be there, and thankfully, Meg, Kelleen and Janou agreed to go with me.

It was freezing. But I was so full of hope and excitement!

I thought we had tickets to the parade, and we waited for hours and hours in the bitter cold. This sounds dramatic, but it was wildly uncomfortable. When we finally got through security, I burst in to tears-so cold and overwhelmed. We saw you and your beautiful Michelle walk through the parade (in that gorgeous gold and green jacket) it was awesome, but still….so cold! Later that night, we warmed up at Pines of Rome and that dinner-sharing stories of the day with Meg’s parents (who had much better seats) and toasting to our new president over cheesy pizza-is a very happy memory.

PS-wonder if headbands will make another comeback? I was clearly a fan in 2009.

Later that fall, Janou and I both interned on the Hill, watching in excitement as your congressional colleagues prepared what would become the Affordable Care Act.

2012: Four years went by fast! Soon it was reelection time. At this point I had graduated from law school was working on ACA policies that impact older adults. I was even more committed to making sure you-and that law-stuck around.

After watching the decision come down at  SCOTUS in the morning, I rushed back to my office where we celebrated. The individual mandate lived! Obamacare survived!

But the election threatened to reverse all of that, and the focus that wall was FOUR MORE YEARS.

We want to a fundraiser and saw Joe :)

Canvassed in Virginia:

And went to one of your final campaign events-co-starring Bill Clinton and Dave Matthews

And celebrated on election night!

Walking from the bar, where we watched the results, down to the White House to celebrate was a classic “I’m so happy I’m in my twenties and living in DC to enjoy this” moment. The campaign was never a sure thing and it was an incredible relief to imagine four more years.


The second term inauguration!

This time Janou had tickets and I was able to just walk down the Hill from my apartment for the ceremony. So enjoyable!

A few months later, the day before the White House temporarily closed to visitors because of the sequester (ughhh), Janou got me a tour. It was my first time visiting as an adult, and I was just as awe-struck as I was when I first saw it in eighth grade.

That spring, David and I got engaged, a life event made even sweeter with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Windsor case, ruling DOMA was unconditional. Walking to the court and celebrating with so many jubilant strangers was an absolute highlight.

2014: Janou started working with an agency in your administration, and our admiration for your leadership grew even stronger.  I loved hearing stories about her work and was beyond impressed by the dedication her colleagues felt to their cause.  That fall, my mom went to an event with Janou-more excitement!



That spring, as we celebrated Katie’s wedding in Palm Springs, Janou got a phone call about a new job opportunity. I became an even more proud older sister-amazed at her incredible work and all she learned from the Administration.

David and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary that summer, and were pleasantly surprised to receive these kind wishes in the mail :) It now sits framed on our fireplace and always makes me smile.

Also that summer, I flew to DC for 36 hours to participate in the White House Conference on Aging.  Hearing you speak about long-term services and supports–particularly about home and community-based services–an issue I am passionate about–was just awesome.


And soon enough, it was fall 2016.  No matter what happened that November, the term was ending, and it was time for staff to take their departure photos. When Janou shared the date for her photo, we excitedly booked tickets and planned a fall weekend in DC.

It was Halloween, a beautiful fall day, and we excitedly cabbed from our hotel to Founding Farmer’s for lunch.  We were all dressed up, nervously trying not to get food on our clothes before we met the PRESIDENT.

After clearing security, we waited for our time with the other staffer’s families in the EEOB.  Max and David realized they both wore special socks for the occasion.

Eventually, it was time to walk over to the Oval Office (!!!) and I could hardly believe we were going to meet the President.  As we waiting in line in the colonnade, I watched families returning from their photo.  They were speechless, clearly verklempt; one mom looked like she might hyperventilate.

I was so excited.  And then, you stood in the door, and told us, “come on in!” You greeted us with such a calm and friendly demeanor and it totally put me at ease.

There were SO many families in line that day, yet you made us feel like you were completely focused and in the moment.  We thanked you profusely, and I still don’t feel like I thanked you enough.  When I think back to that speech in 2004, and the tough place the country fell in the following years, and compare to where we are today, all I can say is THANK YOU.  Thank you for pulling us through and lifting us up. Thank you for doing it with your beautiful family, all with complete dignity and grace. Thank you for everything.


P103116CK-0131, 0132, 0134
President Barack Obama has departure photos taken with Janou —- and family in the Oval Office, Oct. 31, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.  Consistent with these restrictions, a commercial printer may produce print(s) of the photograph for the subject(s) personal use.

Best wishes,


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“Good morning, Stockton…

…We have a lot of work to do.” Last night, Mayor Michael Tubbs ended his swearing-in remarks with this hopeful and direct reminder.

In these gloomy times for our nation, watching the Stockton Mayor and city council get sworn in at the Bob Hope Theater brought immense hope and inspiration. In her poem, the Stockton Poet Laureate declared the time had arrived, that “it’s time to change the conversation about Stockton.”

Feeling the theater brimming with energy and hope lifted me up. I’ve been thinking about her words all day- and about my internal conversations about Stockton.

Photo from TenSpace

Though we’ve officially lived in Stockton for nine months (whoa time flies) I realize I haven’t jotted down my thoughts on this move and the city. There’s a lot to unpack and my feelings continue to evolve.

What I do know: moving here wasn’t an easy decision (for me), and the process of establishing a life in Stockton has required substantial sacrifice (from both of us).

Each day-and I mean this sincerely-David inspires me with his unwavering commitment to make downtown Stockton a better place for all Stocktonians. Years before we moved back to California, he would come home from his real job, sift through planning articles and Stockton data, and fire away, writing about how to revitalize downtown.

Now, he gets to put those ideas and analysis into action. It’s thrilling to see it happen in real life. It’s also very, very hard.  Given the city’s economic reality, none of this is easy. Bay Area development this is not. There’s no safety net, and until TenSpace built one, no blueprint for downtown planning. David and his colleagues are charting a new course, constantly relying on grit and love of city to push them through many, many challenges. When he picks me up after work, I often ask, “put out any fires today? Literal or figurative?” Because there’s been both. Multiple times.

All to say, my internal conversation about Stockton isn’t always positive.  As an outsider, this is a tough city to love. The poverty, high crime, strained schools-these aren’t the critiques of naysayers, but a difficult reality. The 70 miles between home and my office might as well be 3,000-the economic divide between the two regions is that stark.

And yet, here we are. I’m a first time homeowner, professional from another city, about to have a baby-and choosing to live in Stockton.  When my internal conversation turns doubtful, and I question this course, I always think of David and his commitment to create positive change downtown.

Last night was beautiful because that commitment was echoed 800 times over.  Over 800 Stocktonians packed the Bob Hope Theater to watch Stockton turn a new page.  Bolstered by the promise of new leadership, the community came together and committed to change.  It’s easy to think that elections don’t matter, particularly local elections, but watching the relief on the council-members faces and the pride in the audience as they anticipated the progress under new leadership, underscored the importance of the democratic process at all levels.

I’m obviously a huge fan of Mayor Tubbs and have deep faith his leadership will usher in a new chapter of progress.  As he said in his speech, it’s time to think about where Stockton is going, and not where it has been. I’m going to try to commit to do that, too, and focus on this moment in my new home city.



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Summer in Winter weekend

This weekend, I escaped the rainy weather and flew to Southern California for a quick weekend with family and friends.

After some delays, I arrived at LAX and made my way to Rachel and Adam’s. They had just returned (literally hours earlier) from a holiday trip to Paris and graciously  hosted me for the night. It was so nice to catch up over burrito bowls and hear all about their trip :)

The next morning, I met up with Taryn’s friends for brunch and we all celebrated the beautiful bride to be! Caity rented an AMAZING house with spectacular views of LA.

I’m so bummed to miss Taryn’s spring wedding, but it was very special to toast to one of my oldest, best friends and revel in her joy and excitement. Taryn is a friend who is always so generous and excited for her friends and she gives so much to her friendships. It was very special to celebrate her, and her marriage, and surround her with love!

I truly love living in Northern California, but when it’s the beginning of January and there’s sunshine and a gorgeous pool, life in LA seems ultra tempting…

My mom and I spent Sunday relaxing in the Westside (I relaxed, Mom was wonderful and navigated all the LA driving :)).

We drove past the Beverly Hilton and saw the impressive preparations for the Golden Globes. (Speaking of, thank you, 2017, for Meryl Streep’s speech).

After lunch, I got a very nice prenatal massage. With the warm weather, the therapist opened the doors to the spa patio. At first I thought-eek! Privacy!–but no one was there and it was such a pleasant, relaxing, almost-summer breeze.

We ended the day with a sunset walk on the Manhattan Beach esplanade. Much to the dismay of locals (we overheard one power-walker lament: “ugh! Remember when it used to be quiet here?”) it was packed with tourists and sunset-gazers. How could it not be? So gorgeous in the middle of January!

This morning, after some rain delays, I flew back to Oakland. Not sure when I’ll fly again-so strange!

And now-almost back home in Stockton. Sending good thoughts for the week ahead :)

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Hello, New Year

A new year is here! Hello, fresh slate, new year, and all that January goodness.

Jon and Melissa generously hosted on NYE and we rang in the New Year over crispy paella and lots of rich cheese with some of my favorite people :)

Jon’s paella-incredible!

After a cozy hashbrown and eggs breakfast, David and I made our way to Half Moon Bay.

It felt SO GOOD to start the New Year with a crisp walk by the ocean. It was a super windy day, but clear and sparkly by the water.  Tyler met up with us for the walk. It’s always refreshing and enlightening to catch up with the almost-doctor!

Grateful that we got some time in the sun as the rest of the weekend and this week have been super rainy and gray. Two more days till the weekend!

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Holiday break :)

We’re wrapping up this holiday vacation and I’m loving every moment of family time and rest. It’s a rainy morning, so thought I would jot down some happy memories from the first half of vacation:


Writing this to remember next year: when waffling between taking a few days off before Christmas or saving the vacation days: TAKE THE DAYS. I’m really grateful I was able to take Thursday and Friday off (thanks, vacation policy!). Between my post election low-grade depression, the unrelenting winter cold/virus that hit our office, and general pregnancy sleepiness, it was particularly helpful to have a bit more time this year.

I mostly took care of overdue errands on Thursday (doctor, car check up, Christmas shopping), but Thursday night we went out for our traditional Christmas burgers and milkshakes at Bob’s on the Marina. Delicious! 


Photo from Silvia

After a cozy brunch and afternoon with Adri in Benencia, David made a pot of rich Cacio e pepe for dinner. I took over the living room to wrap up presents (a day early-that never happens) and watched one of my all-time favorite holiday movies.


We hosted Christmas Eve dinner for the fist time!

Photo from Silvia

David made an incredible prime rib and sides and we opened presents after dinner. It’s been years since we hosted Thanksgiving dinners and I forgot how tiring hosting a holiday dinner is! And I didn’t even cook! Eek. Grateful we could all be together.

David, Abuelita and Silvia :)

This was the first Christmas Eve we’ve ever spent in our own home. We left the tree lights on overnight and a plate of cookies by the fireplace…it just felt right.


It was kind of neat to wake up, at home, on Christmas morning. And it was CHILLY! We drove over to David’s dad’s house and opened presents with the family. His family hosted an incredible breakfast buffet, with Belgian waffles-my favorite. 

David and his new diaper bag backpack-getting ready :)

Soon it was time for our other holiday tradition: midday flight to Irvine!

Thankfully, it’s an easy, short flight and my parents live super close to the airport. 3 1/2 hours later, we gathered around Janou’s gorgeous appetizers, sinking in to a festive afternoon.

After Christmas crackers and Mom’s delicious prime rib and scalloped potatoes, we curled up by the fireplace and Katie and Kevin came over for dessert. I can’t adequately articulate how special it was to all be together, in one place, listening to Katie and Janou’s stories of their exiting adventures, soaking up the Christmas hygge spirit. So special!


After sleeping in (hooray!!!), David and I decided to try for the Beachcomber for lunch. It’s always such a kick seeing the beautifully decorated tree sitting on the  beach.

David’s drink, the Beachcomber, couldn’t have been more ridiculous and he LOVED it. Noting to try making it in the future: Cherry Cruzan Rum, Svedka Lemonade, and Cranberry Juice.

That night we drove to Manhattan Beach for dinner with some of my UCLA favorites at Tin Roof Bistro. It definitely wasn’t enough time to fully catch up but a treat briefly be together.


Engagement celebrations!!!!! Max’s family graciously hosted an engagement lunch at True Food Kitchen to celebrate Janou and Max. It was so special to kick off their wedding celebrations together and get to know Max’s family. Can’t wait for the wedding!!!

After lunch, Janou, David and I drove to UCLA. The sun was beginning to set and we just marveled at the beautiful campus.

We couldn’t resist checking out our ceremony location and taking some photos…looking quite different now than in July 2014!

And of course, some Diddy Riese before heading home :)


More quiet and lounging and then a special Christmas lunch! I took my dad to lunch at the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel, flipping a tradition from my childhood, when he used to take me out for special Disneyland days.

The hotel was gorgeous and spectacularly decorated for the holidays. I loved having the afternoon to catch up with my dad. Very special.

That night, over latkas and salad, we all celebrated Hannukah together.


Jen Tan and I had plans to hang out and when she mentioned Salt and Straw in Venice, our plans were SET.

Despite the lines and hype it’s surprisingly not overrated-the ice cream is that good. After an appetizer of salted caramel ice cream, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Gjelina. I peppered Jen with about 800 pregnancy and baby questions and she patiently reassured me about all of it. So grateful for my wise and expert friends.

Later that evening, I met up with the UCLA favorites at Belmont Shore in Long Beach. It was especially nice to have more time to catch up some more.


One last morning of sleeping in and laziness in Irvine. It was rainy and cozy, and Janou’s pumpkin pancakes were a delicious way to greet the day. After lounging, we got our act together and ventured out for wedding dress shopping!

We checked out a few spots and got a better idea of the different types of dress styles. And, of course, Janou makes every dress look stunning :)


And now, it’s the last day of 2016! After a super early flight this morning, I took a very long winter’s nap. And now, we’re off to San Jose to greet the New Year with some of our best friends. Very grateful for this restful holiday break and the time with family and friends :)

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