Monthly Archives: January 2017

Heyyyy…how are you?

Here’s an all too common post 11/8 exchange:

Friend: Heyyy…how are you?

Me: I’m ok, how are you?

Friend: I’m…ok. I mean, I’m fine, everything with me is ok, but ughhh…

Me: I know.

Friend: Trump! It gets worse everyday!

And repeat.

(Sunrise this morning. Not at all related to this, but it brought me some calm).

There has to be a better way to sum up the “I’m doing ok, just devastated and terrified about the rapidly deteriorating state of the world” greeting.

Man, this weekend. And yet, why am I even surprised? This is a president who told us exactly what he wanted to do. While he can’t deliver on any of the promises that would help people (last I checked, there’s no new steel mills, we have no federal parental leave policy, and Pharma reigns supreme) he’s certainly coming through with his promises for harm. 

I’m encouraged by my friends and protestors and only hope they will have the stamina to keep showing up in force. I’m frustrated that I can’t be in the midst of it, but inspired by the visual outpouring of this human force against hate. The images of lawyers in airports and the updates from NILC and the ACLU reinforce my admiration towards lawyers and the importance of the court (which, to be honest, as a lawyer myself, I can sometimes forget).

So, mentally, I’m clinging to that. Trying, so hard, to focus on the good, and the brave acts of those doing the right thing. And calling my senators and rep, etc. etc.

It all just feels really hopeless. What are we going to do? I mean, really though, where do we go from here? We have to stay engaged and informed and push the GOP to maintain some sort of oversight and accountability-but will they? And if they dont? 

There’s not much more to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times by, thankfully, millions of others. No silver lining way to wrap this up. This is scary, and wrong, and I’m worried and angry and confused and this is not ok.

Time to out on my Google meditation music, take Twitter off my phone (again), and practice those slow breathing techniques…

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Third trimester-so far

Almost halfway through the third trimester and wanted to jot down a bit about this experience. Keep meaning to keep better track of this experience! Here’s some thoughts: 

I’m 33 weeks and feeling PREGNANT. One thing that used to perplex me about pregnancy is how much time moms-to-be spent thinking about it. Was it always on their mind? Would they forget? While I never forget I’m pregnant, there’s definitely been moments where  it surprises me-mostly in the second trimester. The mirror in our bathroom is pretty high and narrow, so I could go a whole weekend and not really notice any change. Then, one glance in a window or the mirror in our closet and-whoa! A very visual reminder of this growing baby.

All this changed with the third trimester. I’m extremely aware of the pregnancy and it’s on my mind all the time. There must be some evolutionary reason behind all this; the mother’s mental preparation to gradually dedicate more and more mental real estate to her child. Whatever it is, I think about the baby a lot and feel him a lot. Which is great! I’m very thankful. He’s definitely active and verrrrry low. (Apparently, I can thank 30 years of completely neglecting my core for these weak muscles and low hanging baby-ooooops). 

It has certainly been fun getting ready to meet the baby. Janou, Katie and my mom hosted a beautiful lunch with friends and it was so nice to be together and get excited. It was such a lovely surprise! And SO nice of friends to make the trip to celebrate!

Joanne made adorable-and incredibly delicious-cookies.

And always a treat to see baby Isla and Rose. Christie is due in April!

I ate…..a lot….of this chocolate cake.

It was a special afternoon-so, so thankful for everyone’s generosity.

Other pregnancy thoughts…still craving dairy. Cheese, milk, but really all I want is ice cream. We FINALLY jumped on the Halotop bandwagon-thank goodness. Tried the Birthday Cake flavor last night and I LOVE it.

Over the last few days I’ve started to feel much more tired. Always cringe and think of the Mindy Kaling quote (“there’s nothing more boring than someone talking about how tired or busy they are. We’re all tired and busy.”) So true, but oh well. I’m tired! I’m up multiple times at night and the weight just makes it more difficult to stay asleep. The whole pregnancy getting ready for bed routine is totally absurd: take bath, fill up humidifier, slather on coconut oil, set up Snoogle/pillow fortress, and somehow curl in and read. Just following some sage advice: you need a lot of pillows. Gotta rest your greatness. (The David Greene-DJ Khaled interview might be one of my favorite moments so far this year).

Beyond the sleep, just feeling a bit mentally fuzzier and a lot more distracted. The other night I actually put soap instead of toothpaste on my toothbrush-it’s so cliche, but it really happened.  Apparently, this distraction is a legitimate PubMed/NIH verified thing!

This should be a pretty low-key weekend and I’m thinking of splurging and getting another pre-natal massage.  Been having slight sciatic pain on my left side, and supposedly stretching and massage helps. Also-baby is completely on one side-my right-so that might be adding to it. 

Feeling grateful for the progress so far, the support from friends and family, and fun experiences with David. And most grateful for this active, growing baby. Just hoping to do right by him the rest of the pregnancy and beyond!

And…last pregnancy thing for now…in this overwhelmingly bleak and scary week for our world, this tweet made me laugh:

Sending good thoughts for a calming weekend :)

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Quick trip to Yosemite

Last weekend, David and I were sitting at a country diner, enjoying the lunch break from our childbirth class. The sun was FINALLY shining, and we started brainstorming places to see snow. 

“Yosemite?” David asked. Within minutes-thanks to HotelTonight-I impulsively booked a hotel room and we began excitedly planning a last minute trip.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast at home and a trip to Target for snacks and boots, we were on the road. My past two trips to Yosemite have been camping in the summer-it’s completely different in the winter. Obviously. But I had no idea how magical it would look.

This time we drove 141 which I much preferred to driving the 4. Less crazy curves and drop-offs and SO green! Before we even entered the park, just seeing the rolling hills and the trees in the Sierra Forrest was enough of a treat to make the trip worth it.

We listened to the Axe Files interview with Dorris Kearns Goodwin on the drive, and there was something special about listening to DKG talk about Teddy Roosevelt as we entered the magnificent park.

Thankfully, David picked up chains in Mariposa because we definitely needed them. It was still pretty icy in the park, and we slowwwwly made our way through the Valley.

I wasn’t in an rush-it felt like every time we turned, we were in another winter wonderland postcard.

We spent the afternoon in the Valley, driving around the meadows, getting out of the car to walk in the snow, and then moving along. The park definitely wasn’t crowded-especially compared to summer-but I was surprised how many families were out. One family was tailgating in their truck bed and another had a full on BBQ-in the snow-at the Swinging Bridge Picnic area!

We definitely weren’t that prepared, but I did remember to pack a full thermos of hot chocolate, which stayed nice and warm throughout the afternoon and was a special treat.

This meadow-with the view of Half Dome-was my favorite. At this point it was late afternoon and the light on the snow was breathtaking.

After snacking and hot chocolat-ing our way through the Valley, we decided it was time for a late lunch/early dinner. The restaurant at Yosemite Lodge wasn’t quite open yet, so we went to the Mountain Room Lounge instead.

The food was surprisingly delicious! There’s a fireplace in the center and pretty views all around. We relaxed for a while before it started to get dark.

I was a bit nervous as we drove through the park-it was icy-but thankfully, we made it out. We stayed at the Yosemite View Lodge, just outside the park. It’s super basic and simple and just right for a restful sleep after an incredible day in the snow. 

Glad we decided to just go for it and take the impulsive trip. I love travel planning and the anticipation, but the spontaneity of this trip made it feel particularly adventurous. Grateful for our National Parks and so thankful to live so close to this beautiful park!

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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 to 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 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. I checked an e-mail from my mom, who was avidly watching the DNC, and followed her link to watch the previous night’s speech by a young politician from Illinois.  Wow. Quite and introduction! I was impressed.

2007: Just about this time, 10 years ago, was the first time I saw you in person.  You hosted a rally in LA organized by LA4Grassroots4Obama. 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. You beamed charisma and dynamism, 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. He warned us the world would never be the same and it wasn’t. Thankfully, you brought hope during a 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) and 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.

That summer, 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 fall was FOUR MORE YEARS.

We went 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 to watch 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 then 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.  Walking to the court and celebrating with so many jubilant strangers and families 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.

At this point we were had left DC and were living in California.  In July, I flew back 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.

Max and David realized they both wore special socks for the occasion  :)

After clearing security, we waited for our photo time with the other staffer’s families in the EEOB.

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 waited 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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