Monthly Archives: December 2014

Good night, 2014

One of the best parts of living in a city is observing the collective hustle bustle before a holiday:

The original Penn Station on Christmas Eve 1960

You’re surrounded by people eager to get going on the festivities, and the anticipation is palpable. I love taking in the flurry. The BART riders-the teenager, teetering to stand, gripping a bag full of board games; the tourist family, squinting on the sunny platform, on their way to SF; the college students, home on break, giddy for a night of fun. TJ’s was packed-with quite the huddle around the champagne shelves. And when we went for Zachary’s, it was a revolving door of families picking up pizzas for parties.

It’s the last big hurrah of the holidays, and it’s thrilling to watch everyone make their way to celebrations.

2014 was a very special year. I am so grateful for all the major changes, and could gush for pages of the joy of this year. With four hours left until 2015, I’m thinking of the past with gratitude and looking forward to the New Year!

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Discovering a word that describes exactly what you’ve been feeling is so exciting. Reflecting on this holiday break, no description seems quite right. My overused, default, favorite adjective-cozy-is close, but just not it. Cozy doesn’t quiet encapsulate the warmth of a gorgeous paella lunch on a Sunday afternoon with special people.

Last night, flipping through a magazine before I fell asleep, I stumbled on this article. I relate to the author on many levels-I remember the Vermont Country Store catalog and definitely played games like mice (and can still picture the imaginary world of Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats
). However, her explanation of the word hygge struck a cord.

It’s the perfect word to describe the sentiment of being home for the holidays. A Danish word with no clear translation, it’s described as: “the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one.” As noted here, it is often inaccurately described as coziness. While coziness describes physical surroundings-a sweater, a warm bed-hygge has more to do with people’s behavior to each other.

A hyggelig time is described as “social nirvana,” for Danes, and often involves candles, family, friends, food and drinking.

This was a special Christmas, and I’m very thankful for this hyggelig time.


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Calm and Bright

Happy Christmas!!


Sending good wishes for warmth, peace and comfort to all on this Christmas.

At the Sacramento airport, waiting to board our flight to Irvine for Christmas with my family. Last night, we enjoyed Silvia’s incredible prime rib and a hilarious white elephant gift exchange with David’s family.

Thankful for so many blessings this Christmas, but chief among them-peace and health of my family and friends. Saying prayers for all those in the world who are not feeling the calm and comfort of this day.

On the drive to the airport, we saw the sunrise while listening to this story. (Aside: Ari Shapiro might be on my 10 Invites to a Fantasy Dinner Party list.) A fascinating story that left me hoping we continue to move toward peace and comfort for all in 2015.

Photo from Travel and Leisure IG

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Train Talk


Eavesdropping is rude. I know this-but I forgot my headphones. So, for this hour train ride, I’ve sat, trying to study, but mesmerized by the candid conversation in front of me. Two 23 year olds, strangers, sat down, and exchanged the usual pleasantries.

They’re both headed to Fresno to see family for the holidays. They agree it’s a nice place, but don’t want to live there. He’s studying for his CPA, she just got a job in Oakland.

As the conversation went on, it grew more and more personal. They’re not hitting on each other-both are in relationships. He just bought a “right hand ring,” for his girlfriend. They’re from the same small town and started dating after college when they got reacquainted at a wedding.

“Are you going to propose soon?” She’s asks. He could not be more flustered-“ahh, I don’t know, not soon, she’s great..That’s just a long way away…”

“But you guys are moving in together!” She says, sounding half shocked, half totally getting where he’s coming from.

She’s been dating the same guy on and off for the past year-plus. “He’s got a lot of issues,” she said, and shares some of his deeply personal stories. She’s been there for him through everything. But she’s not sure how much longer she should stick around.

He listens, patiently, and asks her questions to understand more of the boyfriend’s perspective.

“I can’t believe I’m telling you this!” She says. “You’re a total stranger.”

He tells her to take care of herself, hold firm on what she cares about. And the he says, “I’m John,” and she replies, “I’m Mari, nice to meet you.”

As I started jotting this down, the conversation took an immensely more personal turn, as he divulged that he and his girlfriend are trying to figure out if she should freeze her eggs. I missed the context-he seems pretty young, I hope she’s ok. As my train arrived, I imagine the conversation became even more honest.

At a time when it’s become normal to zone out on your phone, it was incredibly refreshing to listen to two people get to know one another. And, while my eavesdropping was totally invasive, it was beautiful to listen to strangers supporting each other.

Just another reason to love traveling.

Photo from Amtrak’s Instagram

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Holiday break

The out-of-office replies are coming in, work is slowing down, the calendar is meeting free-it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I’m taking Wednesday-Monday off and really looking for some quiet time at home. My goal is to get a lot done tomorrow and Tuesday and then mostly take a break from studying during the weekend. Until the 29th, still holding on to some holiday fun and just want to remember a few happy holiday moments from the last week:

Stockton Holiday Market


David’s colleagues organized a holiday market with local artists in the Newberry Building. The turnout was awesome, and it was fun to sip wine, listen to Christmas music and see people excited about an event in downtown Stockton.

Covert Claus Christmas Party


Kirstin and Brian had us over to their beautiful home for Christmas dinner and a Secret Santa gift exchange. There was homemade egg nog, incredible short ribs, and, of course, lots of laughter.  PS-check out Turkey’s awesome hammock in the living room window!

Holiday drinks at the Claremont

Back in the fall, before ClassPass, when it was light after work, I liked to (occasionally) run up to the Claremont Hotel. On a clear day, the views if the Bay are gorgeous. Friday evening, I wrapped up studying early and decided it was a perfect excuse for holiday drinks at the hotel bar. The hotel is lovely, and the gingerbread house (all those bricks are gingerbread! You can smell it!) is so festive:


A few weeks ago, David and I checked out St. George’s distillery in Alameda. When I saw their gin on the menu at the Claremont bar, I knew the “Botanical View” drink was for me. The drink was refreshing, and the company even better:


Cookie Party and Gift Exchange

Heather and Stephanie hosted a cookie exchange on Saturday. It was my first time driving the Bay Bridge into the city-I survived! Stephanie had the Netflix fire and lots of candles on, and her tree is gorgeous. It was a nice to take a festive break from studying. Sunday was a rough study day, but Sunday night we drove over to Mountain View to Jon and Melissa’s for white elephant gift exchange. They’re going to Austin for New Years, and I’m angling for a chance to dogsit their darling dog, Andi.  Still not ready to have a dog, but dogsitting sounds fun!

It’s practically Christmas now, so I’m going to take it easy the next few days and enjoy family time. Looking forward to more gift exchanges, Christmas breakfast, and laughing with some of my favorite people :)


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