Monthly Archives: June 2015


At this time, last week, we were landing in Oakland after four verrrrry relaxing days in Cancun.  My mom sent me this spot on NYT article about keeping that vacation feeling, and so in that spirit, a bit of vacation reminiscing…

After a crazy early flight Friday morning, we meet up with Mr. Bress in Phoenix.

Ha! After a slight delay, we landed in Quintana Roo.  I’ll write about the wedding in a moment (AMAZING) but first some memories from the vacation.

The resort (the Now Sapphire) was huge and a very tasetfully decorated all-inclusive.  I’ve never stayed at an all inclusive resort, and after one trip, I can safely say it is the most stress-free way to travel.  Basically, once we checked in, we literally did not have to do anything.  No planning, no navigating, no deciding.  Just wake up, go to breakfast, lay at the beach, have lunch, some drinks, repeat.  It was an ideal way to completely let go and let your mind relax.

Having said that (can’t say that without thinking of Curb), I’m not sure all-inclusives are my thing.  It was unbelievably relaxing, but also, a bit confined.  By design, it’s an artificial environment and there’s a Disneyfication that is impossible to ignore (though, I loved the Hibachi restaurant and the fake French restaurant was quite good).  The resort itself was beautiful, and I could see going back for a few days in a few years if we need to totally relax.

If we do return, I would LOVE to stay at the Zoetry Paraiso la Bonita, Katie and Brendon’s wedding resort. On Saturday, we took a short cab ride up the road to the wedding.  The resort was stunning, as was the bride and the wedding.

Such a romantic setting!

On the water!


Katie was such a happy, gorgeous bride.  A favorite moment in the ceremony: a reading from Justice Margaret Marshall’s opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Health.  It was a beautiful moment to recognize equality and a powerful passage:

“Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

Another favorite moment was at the reception.  Katie’s mom read a beautiful passage from a YA book.  Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the book! But it was a sweet mother-daughter moment:

And then-ocean front dancing time! The kicked the dancing off with my current favorite dancing song and it was a BLAST.

These two + Katie and Brendon were such special friends during our DC years.  It was awesome to be reunited for such a special event.

The rest of the trip, we just CHILLED.  My favorite restaurant at the hotel was the ocean side grill, with awesome ceviche and fish tacos, right on the water.

I read Girls in White Dresses and Beautiful Ruins-both light and breezy beach reads.

Feeling very grateful for the retreat and restoration and time together.

After a few short days, and a quick layover in Guadalajara, we were home!

Usually, a three night trip might leave me pretty drained, but the resort was so relaxing and the wedding so reinvigorating, it was just the right amount of time.

As always, very thankful for the opportunity to travel :)

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Equal dignity in the eyes of the law

What a day.

(outside SCOTUS before the Windsor decision, two years ago)

All I can think about today is the refrain filling eveyone’s newsfeed, accompanying all photos, so simple and true: Love Wins.

Today was truly historic and a tremendous moment for equality. I can’t gush about this wonder of this day without thinking about the reality and horror that accompanied June 26. The funeral in Charleston, the terrifying violence in Tunisia and France. The world is not free from evil, and we are far from peace.

Growing up, our rabbi had a saying: “think about how you see the world. Do you want to see it through loving eyes or fearful eyes?”

So, while I won’t ignore the very real and deeply concerning challenges in the world, I try to see through loving eyes.

And when love wins, it is BEAUTIFUL!

Two years ago, when the court issued the Windsor decision, I watched from the steps, joining hundreds of other excited advocates for progress. While waiting for the decision, the humidity on the hot June day rising, I started talking to the family next to me. They were from southern Texas, giddy with excitement, a mother, father and two young daughters.

I’m embarassed to admit this.  I said, “what incredible timing for your trip to DC! How cool to also get to see history!”

The father smiled, looked at his family, and said, “this is why we’re here.  This decision is the reason for the trip.”

The day before, they loaded up the car and drove up from Texas just so their daughters could experience the decision.  Listening to the father speak about how important it was to him that his daughters witness an important moment for civil rights was truly beautiful.

When the decision came down, we all jumped and cheered-it was a thrlling moment!

Love won then, and love won again today. It is so ordered.

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Back to reality…

Back home after a sunny weekend in Mexico!

We flew to Cancun Friday to celebrate Katie and Brendon’s beautiful wedding.  Can’t wait to catch up on the very relaxing trip :) 

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California-1 Year

I realized something Saturday morning.  It was exactly one year ago that Janou drove me, sobbing hysterically, to the airport. I flew to SFO and moved to Oakland, to our little apartment.


Quite a year! It’s impossible not to entangle reflections on California – Year 1 with thoughts on our first year of marriage (since, genius plan, the cross-country move preceded our wedding by mere weeks).  Thinking about this year and marriage and all the growing up and growing together and growing stronger–I’ll hold off on that gush and sentiment until July.

For now, just taking a temperature check on living in Oakland and how it feels one year out.

Overall, it feels great.  I was and continue to be so grateful that we get to work and live here.  It was extremely lucky that things worked out the way they did, that I was able to transition working here, and I’m constantly aware of how lucky we are.

I do want to remember that it was a big change, mostly as a note to myself for the future. The transition to life in Oakland took a while.  Those first few months, so much of Oakland drove me bananas.  Everything was so slow, the BART had no logic, no one jaywalked, and MAN I missed that DC life.  Sometimes, walking around downtown, I would panic a bit.  Walking around DC always provided a shot of energy, it is so vibrant.  Downtown Oakland is no DC, and I found myself walking around feeling pretty alone and very uninspired.

Time really softens the harsh edge of change, and after a while, it all began to feel more comfortable.  Part of it was an ever-growing appreciation for northern California (more on that) and part of it was just finding creature comforts.  I just finished Quiet (INCREDIBLE) and Cain’s description of “restorative niches,” basically, moments and places to go recharge, stuck with me.  In Oakland, it took time, but I eventually discovered my comfort niches.

My life in Oakland is undoubtedly smaller than it was in DC.  For a long time, I missed the people and the buzz so much it stung.  I still miss the people (ahem, Janou and Katie) daily, but this quieter life has grown on me.

One year later, I surprise myself when I say, I love it here.  I love:

  • Waking up and knowing that there’s a 90% chance it’s going to be sunny and pleasant. You can make plans and be fairly certain the weather won’t ruin them.
  • Knowing my parents are a day’s drive away. (NOTE-the flip of this is that Janou is across the country.  That’s tough.)
  • When I buy flowers at Trader Joe’s they last forever and keep the apartment cheery and bright.
  • This sweet little apartment.
  • That Trader Joe’s is basically downstairs.
  • In a pinch, Market Hall’s kale Caesar salad and chicken is the BEST can’t-think-of-anything-to-make-for-dinner solution.  Also, Zachary’s pizza,
  • Getting to know different neighborhoods through ClassPass.
  • That we can go to SF for the day.  I love being able to take BART after work to Embarcadero to walk on the water or to just enjoy the buzz the city.  I don’t think I want to live there, but it’s awesome knowing it’s right there.
  • This once foreign to me now amazing place of Northern California. David and I are NOT active or outdoorsy, but somehow just being here, it’s like we’ve become pseudo hikers by osmosis. Mt. Tam, Half Moon Bay, Point Reyes, Angel Island, Tilden Park, Redwood Park, LaFayette Reservoir-there’s just too much to see.  I can’t get over it. And then there’s Napa, Big Sur, and the growing list of new places to see (Sonoma, Mendocino, Oregon?)
  • Weekend trips with friends to Tahoe, Yosemite, Rocklin and soon…the beach!

More thoughts swirling, but it’s too late.  Is tomorrow already Thursday? 

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Spring reading

Thanks to Instagram, a few weekends ago, I learned some very exciting news:

A new biography about Joan Didion is coming out at the end of August! I.cannot.wait. We don’t have any trips set in stone for the end of summer and I kind of want to take one just to read this book.

It got me thinking, it’s been a while since I jotted down thoughts on spring reading.  So, in the order of LEAST FAVORITE BOOK BY FAR to a-very-close-tie for top three, purely for the sake of my memory, here’s some thoughts on recent books:

Not That Kind of Girl: Here’s the thing, most of the time when watching an episode of GIRLS, I spend the whole time horrified at the character’s narcissism, kind of disturbed, and frankly, pretty of bored.  But there’s always those few moments when Lena Dunham just gets it with the writing, and picks up on those cringe-worthy millennial traits, and captures a slice of life in a way only a remarkably brilliant 27 (?) year old could do.  Unfortunately, her book had very few of those moments.

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing: What was this? That’s how I felt after reading this book.  A book that opens with a wealthy family vacationing at their summer shore house definitely captures my interest, but just when I thought it would have an Emily Giffin-esque love story, it totally departed.  I kept picturing Ernest Hemingway as the male lead and THAT was disturbing. I looked up the writer, and it seems like she may have been trying to get in on the Lauren Weisberger/Jennifer Weiner chick lit train, and that confirmed I have zero interest in reading any of their works.  Ouch-that’s harsh.  Either way, thumbs way down.

Innovative State: First 1/3 of this is fascinating.  The history of the way the government fueled efficiency and innovation in the private sector and vice versa-really interesting.  The rest….not so sure.  The autobiographical pieces, while admirable, were not as interesting, and I gave up halfway through.

The Rosie Project-Maybe I’m cold hearted? Everyone in my book club LOVED this.  Not sure why, I just could not get into it. Probably better to listen to it on tape.  I think what drove me crazy was certain conversations and plot elements would drag on and on and then a serious twist would be burried in a sentence of seemingly never-ending dialogue.  It seemed pretty imbalanced.  It’s totally ready for a film adaptation, and I’ll probably see the movie.

One Last Thing Before I Go-Oh, this was so NOT nearly on the same level as This is Where I Leave You.  Tropper’s observations in TIWILY had me pausing my audiobook and re-reading GoodReads quotes almost daily.  With this, I read the book text, and I didn’t jot down a single quote!  It’s definitely Tropper’s style, and could make a great movie, but nothing about the writing captured me.  Of course, I loved Drew Silver’s parents, and the Versailles neighbor’s friendship was both tremendously depressing and sweet.  Still, Drew Silver is no Judd Foxman, and this book left 10% of the emotional impression of TIWILY.

I Feel Bad About My Neck-Yay! Now we’re getting into the good stuff.  Lady Nora is unmatched and this book had me laughing and getting teary-eyed while driving back from Palm Springs.  Too many sweet chapters, but one of my favorites was her memory of her apartment, and the way her relationship with her home evolved.  It’s the kind of chapter I could see myself re-reading when thinking about place and home and dealing with change.

Being Mortal-Read this over the winter, but never wrote about it.  One of the best books I’ve read in recent years.  I think I would say that even if I didn’t work in aging.  Just as Wendell Potter’s Deadly Spin opened my eyes to the underworld of the health insurance industry, this left me constantly questioning our long-term services and supports structure (or lack there of).  Plus, Gwande is a PHENOMENAL writer. I need to add Complications and the Checklist Manifesto to my OPL hold list.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?-How am I 30 and only NOW discovery Roz Chast? Have I been living under a rock? Thank goodness my friend Hannah recommended this book or I would wasted more time wandering aimlessly through life without Chast’s hilarious observations as a guide. This book is sweet, heart-wrenching and SO HONEST.  When I read Bittersweet Season, I thought no one could possibly capture caregiving and aging challenges as well as Jane Gross.  Well, now Chast’s book is at the top of my This is the Book Anyone with a Parent or Loved One needs to read list.

Last, my personal favorite from the spring: Yes, Please.  This book arrived at the OPL at the perfect time. All those years watching Weekend Update, I never thought Amy Poehler’s wise words would prove to be some of the most helpful when facing serious disappointment.  I just spent about 5 minutes re-reading quotes from the book.  I was going to include some, but there’s honestly just too much there.   My old habit, when having a bad day, was to re-read sections of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? or GoodReads quote search Anna Quindlen.  New habit: GoodReads quote search Yes, Please.  It’s just so good.

Now, back to reading.  A few years ago, Rebecca recommended Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  Finally picked it up from the library and I’m absolutely loving it.  Happy almost-weekend!

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