If 2020 was a drink, what would it be? Vodka in a water bottle when you were expecting it to be water. Now, this is from a funny person on the internet, but I laughed so hard since this has happened to me, it is a horrible surprise, and it aptly describes 2020.
A quick round-up of a few highlights on the Summer.
On May 30, SMS and I watched the SpaceX launch of two astronauts to the International Space Station. It was a success! Our little stuffed owl put on his cosmonaut helmet but, given the size of his wings, stayed firmly grounded.
I continued a few quarantine hobbies. I received the gift of a sourdough starter from Stacy and Michael and made some pretty decent sourdough loaves. It took me a few tries to get the leaven concept, but then it was pretty awesome. I haven’t made any loaves recently but we had some deliciously fluffy pancakes this morning!
My garden ended up being a little bit of a bust. I need to do some more research on optimal sun and water for specific plants, but it is also true that the soil is only so-so. Especially when inconsistently watered.
SMS and I were apart for part of June, together in July, and then up in Menlo Park for his birthday. We celebrated his birthday there and then I drove back down to SD alone, which was unplanned. He had been put in charge of a short timeline, high stakes project at work so he stayed back in case he had to go in. So, for August, I was back in SD alone and it was a tough month to be apart with heat, wildfires, real estate misadventures, and work stressors. Even though we are still incredibly fortunate and we can still find silver linings, August was definitely the month that 2020 became very 2020 for us.
I went to NMCP for the last week in August, which was a great trip professionally but still stressful since the surgeries were high-stakes and required a lot of concentration. Everything went really well and it was super rewarding. I also had an awesome visit from Mom and Dad, who came down from DC to visit Thursday evening through Saturday. The highlights were our amazing dinners at Luce and York 411, with excellent food and great conversation. I wish I saw them more!
I went back up to the Bay Area and SMS and I had a fun trip to San Francisco. We actually had an impromptu stay overnight after deciding to treat ourselves to a hotel room for the a/c. We used points and definitely like they were points well-spent!
SMS’ work had their big reveal on 9/9 and it went really well. He made the decision to give up his apartment in Menlo Park and move down to San Diego. Working remote will still be “a thing” for several months and it just seemed time to be together. This was/is very exciting news!
Over the years, I have had sporadic breaks when I wasn’t traveling/I was busy/I was lazy/etc. There has never been a month break where so much has happened. I don’t have any deep thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic but I implore anyone reading to please listen to the experts. By this I mean, CDC, WHO, and the national treasure Dr. Anthony Fauci. My career is based on science, facts, and a healthy respect for the number of unknowns that exist in our understanding of exactly how our miraculous bodies work. Acknowledging these unknowns is a sign of humility and strength, not a reason to thereby dismiss everything someone is saying. Total certainty is impossible and while it’s comforting when someone offers it, it is likely a shallow and fallible.
So, how has COVID-19 affected me? Well, I’m embarking on the USNS Mercy to our mission in LA. While things could always change (and we were told something different up until yesterday afternoon), it seems this will likely be the destination since it was announced by the President. SMS is here in San Diego and we’ve had a great week together. Our families are healthy.
Since I do like to document my travels on this blog, I’m going to briefly sum up the last month prior to 12 March or so. This is not to trivialize the current situation. As for updates from the Mercy, I will certainly be writing privately. Not as certain what will be on the blog but I will try!
SMS and I are social media stars. Ha, ha, not really. But we are in Lucid Motor’s promo video from the reveal event. So, I grabbed a screen capture for posterity!
On 19 Feb, Michelle and I had a ladies of ENT workout and slumber party. In the evening, we went for a run in the beautiful Del Mar Heights area. Then, we drank some wine. Not a lot, but I had planned to stay over so we could workout early (5:15 am) in the morning. We took an ok aerobics/toning class, followed by an awesome spin class. Hooray for work colleagues/friends!
That next weekend, SMS and I went on a hike on 2/23 to Muir Woods. We went in the “back way” so we could park on the road along a trailhead up Mt. Tam, near the highlighted Mountain home parking. We went on a 5 mile hike and it was awesome! There were beautiful redwoods in the gully and, as we went higher, we cleared the treelike and saw beautiful vistas.
Afterwards, we went to Sausalito and had some oysters and soup to re-energize us. We went to the Fish Peddler and it was really good. It was also a little less expensive than the restaurants in the heart of “downtown” (it’s really a small place overall).
The next weekend was the Lucid battery team’s 4th annual ski trip. We skied at Northstar and were finally able to use our Epic passes, which really do save money. We won’t get to use them this Winter but since we skied two days, we saved about $50 overall. Maybe next year we’ll try again.
We stayed at a really cute AirBnB. I would want to stay there again in the Summer, but can I tell you one annoying thing about AirBnB? The cleaning fee, taxes, and admin fees aren’t included in the room rate that pops up during the initial search. It really can add quite a large percentage to the actual amount paid. However, in fairness, AirBnB has had an amazing (for the renter) cancellation policy for COVID-19. So, I’m not anti-AirBnB, I’m anti-hidden costs and fees. Also, hosts that add a sizable cleaning fee should just rethink their room rate. Unless maybe there are tax reasons for doing so?
It snowed our last night there, which led to some adventures with tire chains on the way home but it was very pretty to look at from the inside of a warm house.
Then, things started changing. This is my colleague when we went to PAPR training. This was Tuesday, before I knew anything about the Mercy, which I first heard about on Wednesday. Such a compressed timeline!
And, in case you want to know about another problem of mine, here’s a screen capture of my camera roll. When I get home, please stage an intervention.
After four weekends in a row away from Menlo Park, SMS finally got a break and I travelled North. I took Valentine’s Day off not because it’s a holiday we go all out for (honestly, it feels like Christmas just happened and who wants back-to-back gift buying pressure?), but because Lucid was having a special reveal party for reservation holders. That’s us!
The event was called, “Love is in the AIR.” The attire was evening smart and it was an incredible party. I would have loved to be there from the start, but I arrived 45 minutes into the party due to insane (but typical) traffic from the airport. The showroom was open for the first time and the interior was exquisitely luxurious. There was a craft cocktail bar, which was for the party only. Lucid will not promote a drinking driving culture in everyday operations. There were special cocktails named after the different interiors. I ordered a drink with whiskey, fig, and a sprig of burnt rosemary that they flamed then and there. Impressive!
There were a lot of delicious hors d’oeuvres that were passed. I tried most of them, but didn’t act disgracefully. I always remember a party I went to where the poor server carrying the shrimp got mobbed by people who acted like they hadn’t eaten in days. Who knows, maybe they hadn’t. But it looked like a shark thrash zone with chum in the water. So, yes, I had some food as it showed up in front of me but afterwards, SMS and I realized we hadn’t really had dinner so we split a kabab plate at Oren’s Hummus.
The car reveal was preceded by a 20 minute-ish talk by the CEO/CTO highlighting some specific advances/innovations/exclusives of the car. Then, the garage door opened in a haze of fog-machine produced atmosphere and the car rolled in. It is a beautiful car and everyone was very impressed.
We spent the rest of the party trying the VR car viewer followed by talking to several Lucid employees. It was a great time and I’m so glad we went.
The next day, SMS had to work and I hung out in Palo Alto. I went to Rumble Boxing, Blue Bottle (twice!), the mall, and the grocery store. I also did some laundry and cooked dinner for Valentine’s Day. Forget “Engagement Chicken,” I made SMS some biscuits and gravy! It turned out pretty well although I think the sausage we used the first time was better. Then we had molten lava cakes for dessert, which were very tasty. I know the menu is not pleasingly cohesive but, hey, it worked for us!
On Saturday, we had a Blue Bottle breakfast and shopped for veggies at the small farmer’s market. Then we headed up to Lafayette to hang out with Jyotsna and Akshay. It was a fun afternoon of eating, drinking, and socializing. We went to their friends’ house in Orinda for a bit. It was nice to talk to them. We had met once before and got along well. We headed home for dinner. I made a Zuppa Tuscana that was pretty tasty and a dupe for the Olive Garden soup for those in the know.
Sunday was our more active day. We ate breakfast at home and then went for a hike on Windy Hill. It was a gorgeous day. I feel so lucky to be able to go on such great hikes! I also made a veggie lasagna that was pretty good. Thanks Smitten Kitchen!
Monday was another work day for SMS/holiday for me. I went to Rumble and Blue Bottle. I was going to go to the museum but Jyotsna invited me to a farm tour!
We went to the Nest Box farm and it was a delight! We fed cows, chickens, goats, and sheep. We collected eggs. There was a small picnic that we supplemented with more food and (surprise!) wine. We looked at the barn, garden areas, and pet rescue rabbit area. It was a beautiful day to be outside and a really cool experience. I want to go back with SMS and stay overnight, which will allow us to do more on the farm like milk a cow!
SMS came home a little after 6. We had some dinner and after that, it was time to go to the airport since I needed to head back so I could be on time for my Tuesday clinic. It was such a great weekend!
SMS and I had another great weekend in San Diego. After he arrived Friday night, we woke up Saturday morning and decided to go to Morning Glory and try the famous soufflé pancakes. We got there around 9:30 and the line was already pretty crazy. We had been warned to go early but hey, it was Saturday and I didn’t want to hurry. There were two seats left at the seat-yourself bar area so we lucked out!
We had coffee, soufflé pancakes, and the Georgian (country) dish Khachapuri. There was an extensive boozy drink menu but I was on call. The guy next to us said his was intense! The soufflé pancakes were pretty good and the Khacapuri was basically fancy cheesy bread. Overall, I liked the place but there are so many brunch places in San Diego that I would choose trying a new place rather than going back.
After breakfast, we went to the Farmer’s Market. Overall, it was a pretty mellow day which was great since the next day was race day!
Yes, I had signed up for the Coronado Valentine’s 10K after my sister-in-law told me about it. She’s an amazing athlete so her time was about 10 minutes faster than mine and she didn’t even had a good race. But, I was very excited about my splits since I averaged just over 8 min/mile and it had been awhile since I’ve done that! Also, my last mile was run in 7’34” which was unexpected and motivating to keep working out!
Afterwards, we went to The Henry with the whole family for brunch so two good brunches in a row. SMS went home later that evening so kind of a quick, mellow weekend.
SMS and I had an extended weekend in NYC! It was fantastic! We arrived into EWR very late on Friday and took a ride share over to Brooklyn. We stayed at an Aloft that was on the edge of the DUMBO district. The hotel had a few mixed reviews, mainly regarding the paper thin walls (true) and the too-tiny size (not really true but this is very subjective). Importantly, it was clean, on the inexpensive side, and a place to sleep. Since we usually travel to do things rather than hang out at the hotel, I would recommend the Aloft. The only reason I wouldn’t stay again is that I would likely want to explore a different neighborhood rather than repeat an experience.
It wasn’t the most über-cool part of Brooklyn, but enough that there was an awesome food hall nearby. We ate at the DeKalb Market Hall three times during the trip. We had thin Spanish-style churros (awesome), arepas (really disappointing), pierogis (delicious), and coffee (necessary). The building also has an Alamo Drafthouse and Flying Tiger so it’s definitely worth checking out.
We were in town to celebrate my college friend’s birthday. I still owe her for the amazing time she showed me on my 21st birthday (heavy sarcasm). In all seriousness, I wanted to be there for my amazing friend for her landmark birthday so SMS and I made it happen! Saturday was the main day so after sleeping in (we stayed on West Coast time the whole trip) and eating at DeKalb, we headed over to Citi Field for a private tour!
Overall, Google Maps is a lifesaver for figuring out how to take public transport in a new city but there are definitely some gaps in the system. We found a big one on our way to the tour since we took the subway to the LIRR with the plan to go two stops to Mets-Willets Park. We were cheerfully oblivious that this would not work since the train does not stop there on game days. Fortunately, a very nice conductor saw our tickets and told us this before we reached Woodside, so we hopped off and took a Lyft. So, not the most efficient and we didn’t have time for a pre-tour drink at Mikkeller, but at least we weren’t late for the tour itself.
The tour was awesome! We went to the press room, different box seat levels, the rotunda, the club house, the dugout, and the field. I think the highlight for me is knowing that beer cooler #1, the Grand Central Station of all the non-craft beer to different vendors around the stadium, is directly opposite the Clubhouse. It was nice to meet some of Karen’s friends before the group grew for a delicious Thai dinner at SriPraPhai.
Dinner was delicious. SMS and I shared a green curry and pad see-ew. After that, we headed back to Brooklyn with Laddie, Dave, Hillary, and Jason. Laddie, Hillary, SMS, and I grabbed an after-dinner drink at Svendale Brewing Co. Tasting Room, which was a really cute place with a nice bartender. All the beers were served in wine glasses, which angers one of Karen’s friends on principle but fortunately, he wasn’t there.
On Sunday, SMS and I slept in again and then headed to DeKalb. We headed to the NY Transit Museum, which was pretty interesting. It’s not a must-do but it is cool to learn more about the vast, iconic subway system and what went into making it and the maintenance and upgrades over the years.
Then, we went to the Other Half brewing company where we had a few taster beers with Karen and, a little later on, Stephen. The beers were delicious and it was fun to try a lot of different small pours. Then, we went to Laddie and Dave’s house for the Super Bowl with a brief stop in the most ridiculous, gourmet grocer on the way, Court St Grocer. It’s less ridiculous if you just accept it as a slightly mis-named fancy sandwich shop.
Laddie had an ad in the Super Bowl line-up, which was fun to see. The game was an exciting, fast-paced one with a comeback ending. And that’s about the depth of my analysis and caring.
The highlight, though, was a trip across the river to PS1. This is prime evidence that SMS is a saint because once I realized the James Turrell Meeting was located there and that it wasn’t in the middle of Long Island (I don’t know why I thought this), I wanted to go so badly. And SMS gamely agreed to two art museums in a day!
PS1 was so cool! It’s located in an old public elementary school and is such a throwback, evocative building that the setting itself is one of the best elements about the visit. It reminds me of St. James Catholic School in Red Bank, NJ.
We saw Meeting (yay!) and a few other pieces. SMS thought the coolest thing was the old coal furnace in the basement. It was huge and very elaborate! We grabbed a coffee in the little cafe and then headed to Williamsburg for pulled noodles at Xi’an’s Famous Foods, which were delicious!
We walked around Williamsburg, including McCarren Park. Then we headed to the water and took the East River Ferry from North Williamsburg down to Dumbo, which was a gorgeous thing to do at sunset. We walked through Dumbo and settled on Colonie for drinks and a light dinner. I loved that bar and, since we came upon it rather than researching it, were lucky that we found the perfect fit for what we were looking for!
After dinner, we headed to the hotel and watched two episodes of Cheer. It’s a good series and it let us stay up so we were still on West Coast time. One more episode to go! Will they win?!?! I think the answer is yes but I’m waiting to watch with SMS!
Our last day, we went to Bluestone Lane for breakfast after testing the wheels on my MUJI roll-aboard. Still holding strong! Strong recommend- both the cafe and the suitcase!
Then, we went to the 9/11 memorial since SMS had never been. It is so amazingly powerful. It doesn’t even feel like history since I can so vividly remember the day and it still has such wide ramifications on our current time.
Afterwards, we went to Eataly and grabbed a coffee while discussing a super cool company, Cesta Collective with the two founders. It was really exciting to talk about a promising, mission-based business that these two women believe in so strongly.
Then, it was time to go. We took the PATH train from WTC to Newark-Penn Station. Then, we took the 62 bus, which was really easy and came every 10 minutes. Even an Uber wouldn’t have been that much faster and it was nice to use public transportation. Basically, getting to EWR is a bit of hassle no matter which way we would go but hey, the flights are the cheapest!
We had cheesesteaks before our flights because we like to choose the healthy option. Then, it was back to the West Coast for an abbreviated work week.