Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hello, weekend

On the train to Stockton and looking forward to the weekend. Feeling a bit bit bah humbug about Halloween-hoping to get into the spirit. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Stevens for a suburban Halloween and I’m excited for pumpkin carving and fun with them + the Hualgars.

Wanted to remember last weekend before too much more time goes by.  Saturday morning, I left bright and early for a weekend in Napa. It is insane how close Napa is when there’s no traffic-just 45 minutes!

This was the second year of our Napa fall girls trip and we started the day at yoga. Thank goooodness because the rest of the day was a total wine and cheese bacchanalia. Alright, hardly bacchanalia, we’re all 30 and were in bed by 10. But it was a lot of wine and Brie.

After securing proper picnic provisions (rotisserie chicken and salads) at Oxbow Market, we made our way down the Silverado Trail to chardonnay heaven.

This was my third trip to William Hill and it was as lovely as ever. Everyone was so kind and once again they offered to do the tasting outside. 


It was SO nice to enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch with the tasting. The views at William Hill are stunning.
We decided to try one more winery, Clos du Val, also beautiful.   

More wine, more laughter.


After CDV, it was time to take a break and get ready for dinner. This is random, but with all of us in one room, I was really impressed by how fast everyone got ready! We’ve come quite a long way in efficiency since the days of getting ready in South Wing. We even had time for happy hour in the hotel lobby!

Genius Lauren made reservations at Ad Hoc months earlier and it was delicious. It’s a pre-set, family style menu, which automatically eliminates the worst part of restaurants: deciding what to order and then regretting it when you see someone else’s meal. It’s a relaxed environment and the food was great.


The next morning I drove home and had a very relaxed day with David. We did a simple hike in Tilden Park and he made incredible pork ragu and pasta for a cozy end-of-weekend dinner.

And now, another weekend begins!

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Filed under California Discoveries, Reunions, Travel


Jeremy and Jackie got married!!!

Last, last weekend David and I drove down to Camarillo for the wedding. We got into town pretty late and woke up the next morning to a gorgeous Southern California day.

That morning, we drove to the beach and spent a few hours watching the waves. In an effort to disconnect, I left my phone in the car.  The combination of ocean air and screen-free time was (no surprise) incredibly refreshing.

Soon it was wedding time. Neat coincidence-Jason and Bita also got married, on the same day, just 10 miles away. So, David celebrated the Johnstons and I celebrated the Jalms.

The whole evening was gorgeous. The ceremony was nestled between vibrant greenery on a working ranch. The tears officially started during Jeremy’s grandfather’s ceremony speech. He was dignified and proud and it was beautiful.

Then, vows, rings, MARRIED!


 How beautiful is that cocktail hour sunset?

Jackie was an absolutely stunning, graceful bride. I loved the classic silhouette of her dress with the gold detail.   


It was a REALLY FUN wedding :)

During the matron of honor’s toast (she nailed it) she talked about how Jeremy and Jackie always bring people together for FUN. It’s so true. Some of my favorite memories are renting a house in Boulder with the Jalms for the UCLA-Boulder game in 2012 and tailgating and exploring Dallas for the UCLA-Texas game in 2014. They always bring people together and it is always a blast. Next year in Provo? 


David snuck over to the ranch for the last few songs :) 


Putta and I probably MANY versions of this same photo at BrewCo nearly 10 (!!) years ago.


Is there anything better than flashing back to college, dancing with your friends, and ending the night hanging out with Dominos?

Cheers to two awesome friends and their future adventures together!!

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Filed under Reunions, Travel

Chicago thoughts

Last week, I was in Chicago for a two day conference. The best part of the trip was being in the same room as many of the advocates we work with from all over the country. It was refreshing to talk, collaborate, and share ideas, without the barrier of phone or e-mail. 

 View from the hotel 

Also recently listened to an interview with Terri Gross, and was surprised to learn that she’s rarely in the same room as her interviewees. What? How can she possibly get such raw and honest conversation without body language cues and eye contact? (She explains here).

From a quick afternoon walk before my flight 

So, for the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole idea of “facetime” and in-person collaboration during an era when so much is accomplished remotely. While the energy in the room was palpable, I was struck by conversations with advocates who live far from their advocacy community. I assumed one national advocate lived in DC-she’s in the midwest. I assumed another lived in the capitol of the state she represented–in fact, she lives in a completely different state, a plane ride away.    

Had to crop out the Trump Tower

As I’ve said a zillion times, what I miss most about DC (professionally) is the dynamic in-person collaboration with national advocates. That, and the constant opportunity for education: in briefings, hearings, events, there was always someone to learn from. Surely this is why I value these conferences-it’s a quick shot of the same energy. At the same time, what I enjoy most (professionally) about Oakland is chatting and brainstorming with my colleagues in the office. There is no question that being in-person fosters spontaneous collaboration and camaraderie that is difficult to obtain over e-mail or Skype.

However, given the expense of conference travel and the reality that many of us work in different states, it got me wondering about how to be more effective over long distances. We regularly use video chat for internal meetings, but I’ve never used it to meet with someone from another organization. Would that be strange? Invasive? Or more productive?

Last week I also registered for a “virtual conference,” mostly to hear the keynote address by health policy leader, but also because I was curious how the whole thing worked. Lo and behold, I had a tech glitch and missed it. Maybe a balance of virtual conferences and the real deal are the secret to more collaboration?

There’s no real conclusion to any of this, other than to jot down these questions and save some photos of a quick walk around Chicago. 

Oh, though, one more thing. Also been thinking a lot about Paul Ryan’s address to his caucus and his (completely understandable) concern about work-life balance with his family. Couldn’t be further from PR ideologically, but hopeful his remarks will give some bipartisan life to the discussion around paid leave and work-life challenges. Though, on the discussion of distances and collegiality, found Cokie Robert’s thoughts quite interesting.

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Filed under Observations, Travel

Portland weekend

Hello, Friday! Before jumping into the fun wedding weekend ahead, wanted to remember some happy moments from last weekend in Portland.


What a perfect place for a quick weekend away. A super-short flight and suddenly we’re in a completely new place.

The public transit in Portland is top-notch and it was a short light rail ride to the airport. I must have booked and re-booked our hotel a zillion times as the prices dropped and finally settled on the Heathman Hotel.  

Central location, fireplace and library on-site. Just right.

We started with lunch at Lardo before exploring downtown. With only two days, we went all-in on tourist spots and restaurants. Someday we’ll return with more time for off-the-beaten path finds, but this trip was pure Portland highlights.

 We got a littttttle carried away at Powell’s (any minimalist mentality went out the window). It completely lived up to the hype. I got a little emotional in the Didion section.

On the flight there, we sat next to a very cool, classy former Bay-Area-turned-Portlander.  You know when you meet professional women/mothers who are confident, poised and nice and you want to ask, “what’s your secret? My friends and I want to be like you when we grown up?” Anyways, she was like that. Rather than ask an insane life advice question, I asked her if there’s anything we could do to avoid looking like total tourists. She told us not to use an umbrella. All Portlanders just walk in the rain.

So, that’s what we did!


It was funny, usually I get all anxious and worked up when it’s rains. I wonder if part of it is feeding off a collective rain misery. (NOTE to California: Any rain you produce this year-particularly to increase the snow pack-will be welcomed with open arms). Anyway, maybe it was because we were on vacation, or maybe because everyone else carried on calmly and sans umbrellas, but it was actually kind of fun getting caught in the rain.

We eventually made our way across the bridge to Southeast  for dinner. Jon and Melissa recommended Olympia Provisions and it was awesome. Even had to break the no-photos-of-food rule.  


Sunday was warm and bright outside and inside Blue Star Donuts.   

 Almond chocolate ganache!

We spent the day walking and admiring the well-planned city.

Beautiful, no cars allowed, bridge. Just for walking, biking and the trolley.


Real fall

  Gorgeous Portland library 

  Walking on the river  
Very grateful for some time away, to just walk and talk and enjoy incredible good with David. Reallllly want to explore more of the Pacific Northwest. Thank goodness for Southwest! On the flight home, we jotted down our food superlatives:

Most memorable flavor:

David: Chorizo at Olympia Provisions

Fay: Honey Lavender ice cream, Salt and Straw

Most surprising/unexpected flavor: 

David: Lime Habanero beer at Lardo

Fay: Duck toast at Ava Genes

Favorite all around dish:

David: Short ribs at Olympia Provisions

Fay: Pork Belly sandwich at Lardo

Best all around experience:

David: Olympia Provisions

Fay: Ava Genes

Best non-meat dish:
David: Raspberry old fashioned donut, Blue Star

Fay: Almond, chocolate ganache at Blue Star

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Filed under Marriage, Travel

The experts 

Currently reading Karl Pillmer’s 30 Lessons for Loving. The gerontologist (swoon!) interviews hundreds of older adults about their relationships. In his intro, he answers the age-old question: what do we call seniors? We struggle with this all.the.time. at work. “Senior citizens” is too dated, “older adults” too clinical. I love his conclusion: they’re the experts.

It got me thinking about last Thursday, sharing the day with some incredible experts. Papa turned 90 on October 8 and thanks to Mom and Dad’s generosity, I got to fly to LA to celebrate his birthday. It was a wonderful lunch celebration at a delicious deli in the valley with Papa and Betty’s friends and family.

Some of my favorite lessons from the experts:

1) No matter how old you are, it is always exciting to have a birthday. Papa could not believe he was 90 years old, no matter how many times he excitedly asked about his age. Even at 90, he was thrilled to have a birthday.

2) When you’re over 90, you eat what you want. Papa’s friend Mimi, a deli connoisseur, kept imploring me to get a pastrami sandwich. She’s a classy, svelte older lady, so you can imagine my surprise when a GIANT plate of piping hot pastrami arrived for her. And she ordered bread for more sandwiches. Go Mimi!

3) Always, always, always tilt the glass when you pour champagne! Papa’s friend Jay, 93, sweetly scolded after my failed champagne pour.

4) Always, always, always drink all the champagne! It was an absolute treat watching Dorothy, 100(!!), delight in her mimosas and bubbly all afternoon.

5) If someone is going to take your photo, PUT SOME LIPSTICK ON. Dorothy was totally prepared for photo time. I never wear anything on my lips (borrrrringgg) starting to think that should change.

 With Dorothy, looking vibrant in her bold lip, and Jay 
6) Be a good friend. Stay close to your friends. Papa’s best friend Ben, 90, celebrated with us and regaled us with fun stories of their seven decades of friendship.

7) Just be nice. After the party, we were hanging out with Papa, and totally unprovoked he said, “People are always nice to me. I’ve always been nice to people and always liked people, and they just like me.” Papa is a total role model for kindness, sweetness and generosity toward others. For 90 years, the world has been all the better for it.

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Filed under Family, Observations, Seniors