I want a dog!

I want a dog!

A unexpected benefit of staying in town for Thanksgiving is that we were able to dog sit a neighbor’s dog! Meet Maui, ichiban kawai inu! He’s like a dog/teddy bear come to life. Super small and super cute. We’ve had a really fun time.

I feel like we reached “peak Menlo” with this dog. We went to our favorite coffee stand and Maui led to more interactions with other people than had ever happened when we were on our own. And even though Maui has super-bougie tastes in dog food (organic, grain-free, refrigerated bison-beef, anyone?), she wasn’t too good for a Milkbone dog treat. Free food is delicious, even to dogs!

Maui is very needy though. She also gets pretty pissed when left behind, which means peeing on the floor. Not the best trained dog in the world. Fortunately, we always left her in the owner’s apartment if we were out or overnight, so our floors aren’t accessorized with little puddle stains.

Family photos! Too bad that Maui probably won’t remember us in two weeks.

That’s not true, I will never forget you!

Alberte, Ghent Dinner

Another evening, another wonderful multi-course surprise menu. But what happens when you don’t like a few of the courses? Well, that happened to us at Alberte, a well-regarded and innovative restaurant that we enjoyed but didn’t totally jive with that night’s menu. But I fully recommend the place- I’m sure we would be completely wowed on another night.

I started with an orange wine, a Grinton VB from Northern Italy. It was quite acidic and refreshing, like a slightly underripe nectarine. The amousé bouche was a watermelon gazpacho and cracker with creamed Roquefort cheese. These were quite tasty.

The next course was a mackerel with a melon-jalapeño granita. This was excellent. I’ve been a big fan of the mackerel this trip. All of it has been fresh, not pickled and the flavor a little more mellow than most mackerel dishes I’ve had.

Then we had a pasta dish, with a perfectly cooked lasagna noodle folded over itself with tomato, butter bean, and a delicious sauce that I soaked up with the delicious crusty bread that had been offered earlier.

Seafood was next in the form of mussels in a miso broth. These were good.

We had ordered a supplement of “trout salmon,” which was a lightly smoked trout dish in really nice olive oil. It was plain, but I thought it was great. SMS was a little more leery of raw-ish fish on a hot day which led us to the dish of trepidation…

The main meat course was sliced pork that had been cooked for “a long time” on the barbecue. Yet, it was really pink and soft but tough at the same time. It came with chard and a plum compote that were amazing, but both of us would have been more comfortable if the meat was more well done. But hey, if we want to be chefs, we should open our own restaurant!

Finally, we had our dessert course which was spectacular- sheets of merengue over ice cream, mascarpone, and blackberries.

Overall, I really liked the restaurant but didn’t favor the menu as much as our other special meals. But since this changes all the time, I wouldn’t let this stop me or anyone else from going in the future!

August Wrap-Up

Living our best auntie/uncle lifestyle!

August was a fun month! Although I always felt that September was just around the corner, we did a lot this month that made it fun, not just a placeholder while waiting for Fall.

SMS and I celebrated his birthday. I had intended to take the day off, but instead I went into work to do a case. I didn’t end up doing the case b/c it went really late. Another faculty member and I had agreed that he would do the case if it went in the late afternoon since I did not want to miss SMS’ birthday dinner.

Not the best looking photo but trust! The food was amazing.

We went to Flea Street restaurant, which was really delicious. Although this sounds really basic, one of the best things was that all the food arrived hot. I’m a big fan of hot food and so often in restaurants, things arrive warm. So, good job on nailing the basics, Flea Street! I got the risotto and SMS got the short ribs. Although the desserts were very tempting, we were too stuffed. So, we have plans to go to the bar one night for drinks and dessert.

That weekend, we went to San Diego for a few different reasons. One, I had Navy Reserves drill which ended up going really well because it was check-in weekend to the command. As long as we got things done, we could leave when complete. So, the day was a little shorter which was great since my sister and her family were in town! Hooray!

On Saturday, we met up at Ballast Point in Little Italy for lunch. I had major 1980s vibes when I walked in because my nephew was sitting by himself at the table. I dig the benign neglect! JK, my brother-in-law was nearby getting waters and keeping an eye on the kid but still, it looked pretty funny.

After lunch, we parted ways from my sister’s family and went to Wolfie’s carousel bar. We were with SMS’ friend John, who had been wanting to try it for awhile. Apparently, it’s really crowded at night. We didn’t sit at the rotating bar, but we did sit in a booth cage with a carousel horse moving above us. It was pretty cool. We had the beignets, which were amazing. Not that we needed more to eat but when should that stop us?

We spent the weekend at SMS’ parents house, which is always a delightful oasis. The next day, SMS and I pulled major babysitting duty while my sister and her husband went to a wedding. We had so much fun. We went to the beach, where the kids learned about the joys of being buried in the sand. They thought it was awesome and it had the side benefit of making baby-sitting really, really easy. Child-watching theme: imprisonment.

Then, we had a snack and went to the pool. The pool was great and we had so much fun swimming. We stayed about 5 minutes too long since the little one went from fine to freezing in about three seconds. But, towels materialized and warming up occurred so it wasn’t a total crisis. Near miss!

Then, we dropped SMS off at the airport since he was working the next day. The kids crashed in the car, which made it a bit of a challenge to get back into the hotel room. I had to have the older one walk a little bit and even though he was basically sleep-walking, he was such a champ! He didn’t cry and whine, he just put one little foot in front of the other.

After Brady and Ricardo came back, I left. We met up for a pool day lunch at Linda and Rip’s house. The kids had another great day of swimming. Then, we all went to La Jolla to look at the seals and to go the the Taco Stand, which was delicious as always.

The next weekend, Rip and Linda came to Menlo Park after spending some time in Davis where their grandson had his white coat ceremony as he enters Veterinary School. We had a pretty mellow visit. We went to an ice cream social hosted by our potential mortage lender (not anytime soon!), followed by brunch at Cafe Wisteria in the Menlo Park Guild. Cafe Wisteria was really nice with delicious salads and really tempting eggs benedict.

We went to the Cantor Art Center to look at the Golden Spike, since we had talked about the Transcontinental Railroad over lunch.

For dinner, we went to State of Mind, which is a real favorite of mine. SMS doesn’t like it quite as much, but he goes there for me. And it’s still good, even if not a favorite for him!

Peacock at the winery

The next day, we had a picnic lunch at Picchetti winery in the Santa Cruz mountains. It’s really nice because there are a lot of picnic tables and outside food is allowed. It’s a popular spot for parties and larger gatherings, but we were lucky to find one open picnic table.

This weekend, we’ve been pretty mellow since we’re leaving for our big vacation next weekend. We had a really nice sushi dinner with our friend Beth on Friday night. Sushi Tomi in Mountain View is delicious. We ran into someone who worked at our apartment complex, who was with some friends. They were going to start on a Central Coast roadtrip and after we mentioned Hearst Castle, they added it to their trip to-do list! I’m an influencer!

Work-wise, things have been going well. 1 Aug marked one year on the job. Exciting! Things have been going really well. I simultaneously feel like I’ve found a place within the department while still feeling like there is so much more to do.

Animal August

I thought C-bird was getting a little feral so I made her eat from my hand. This was done begrudgingly but it was a success. Bird! I will make you love me!

C-bird’s favorite human trimmed her beak this month. She had quite a snagglebeak. Although she squacked her head off (figuratively), she was pretty good during the beak trim. Although she tried to hide afterwards, unsuccessfully.

I saw a very large banana slug on a hike! We hiked the Grabtown Gulch trail in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a great hike- moderately challenging, not too long, and in the shade.

SMS got a donkey for his birthday.

We went to the Cantor Arts Center to see the Golden Spike. On the way in, we passed a Deborah Butterfield horse statue (bronze, not driftwood)!

Finally, SMS and I took care of these two wild animals in San Diego! We had the best time with these two!

Shangri-La, Honolulu

Back in college, I was awarded funding for a three-week travel fellowship to Andalucía to study the art of the Moorish Empire. I went to Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada. It was an incredible opportunity for me since I wouldn’t have been able to afford a Summer trip to Europe otherwise. Also, it turned out that I vastly overestimated how much lodging would cost. My budget request was $50/day and I ended up spending ~$20, which allowed me to take a side trip to Barcelona with the “bonus money.” I know, I know, that’s a pretty loose definition of “side trip,” but it was awesome! Moorish art and architecture with a big side helping of Gaudi!

That Summer overall was pretty amazing because on my return, I spent 8 (10?) weeks in a lab on-campus earning enough money for my last year of college spending money, which was necessary! Anyway, reflections for another day but definitely an idyllic Summer in Northwest Massachusetts.

All this to say, I have loved Islamic Art for a really long time. Even as a kid, I remember being pretty wowed by Granada, although I am more appreciative as an adult. I first heard about the Shangri-la several years ago during a trip to Oahu. I’ve wanted to go since then, but it takes some planning. It is only open certain days and tickets have to be purchased in advance. Since I was extending my trip for a mini-vacation, one of my top priorities was to finally see it.

I bought my tickets online for a morning tour back in December. The tickets are released quarterly on the first Thursday of September, December, March, and June at 10am HST. They do sell out! How quickly, I do not know since I had set an alarm and logged in shortly after release.

That morning, I went to the Museum, which I walked through before and after the tour. The group loaded onto the mini-bus and drove out to Shangri-la, which is in a beautiful neighborhood east of Diamond Head. The bus ride was quiet and lasted about 15 minutes with minimal traffic.

The Shangri-la foundation is now separate from the HoMA, but they still coordinate closely. The bus let us off in the Courtyard. There was a short-ish, 10 minute intro to the place in the main foyer. The remainder of the time was self-guided.

It’s hard to pick a favorite part, so let me tell you some highlights. I loved the main bedroom wing, because it seemed very clear that the area was a separate sanctuary that would have been closed off during any larger social events hosted by Doris Duke. Also, the marble window insets were made by craftsmen in Agra, India and were the inspiration/focal point for designing the place.

The view from the back lawn was spectacular. I loved the balcony where tables and chairs were set up for foundation workers’ lunch breaks- lucky! There were different rooms decorated exquisitely, both with art and furnishings.

After 80 minutes or so, we made our way back to the courtyard. They offer box water and a small ice cream sandwich. I had the lilikoi one and it was delicious. I fully realize that the snack is to lure visitors out so that we leave!

I wish I could have stayed longer, swanning around as if I were the current owner. It would be very easy to do! The tour group is quite small in number, so it really is a quiet experience where I didn’t feel crowded or jostled walking through the house. There is a small cove beach below that I think can be accessed publicly, but that’s an adventure for another day.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was that the art was a broader Islamic Art collection like the Sackler (boo on that family legacy!) Gallery in DC rather than a strictly Moorish, Alhambra-replica that I thought I would see. There’s no great reason why I thought this, I just did. But it didn’t matter! It was really an exquisite house with incredible art. I loved it and strongly recommend a visit!

Honolulu Museum of Art

I have been to Oahu several times since 2005 when I was there for six weeks for a medical school rotation (go USUHS!). Even though Oahu, and Waikiki in particular, can be seen as too crowded and touristy, I love it! I have also done new-to-me things on most visits. This time was no exception.

First up, the Honolulu Museum of Art is amazing. It’s where you check-in and board the shuttle to the Shangri-La, but it is a worthwhile destination itself.

The highlights were two temporary exhibits (sorry). The first was a two-gallery immersive, walk-through exhibit by Rebecca Lewis Law. It consisted of thousands of copper-wire strands of botanical specimens hung from the ceiling of two adjacent galleries that were at right angles to each other. It was spectacular and special. The write-up talks about the fragility of nature.For example, there are some found plastics incorporated into the beach-y part. But I kept thinking about Annie Dillard’s writings on the fecundity of nature. It was just so overwhelmingly immersive and awe-inspiring. I really loved it. I went through three times, although not backwards (which is not SMS’ favorite habit of mine!).

Pictures were only allowed at the very end of the tunnel at the artist’s request to amplify the viewer’s experience. If you get a chance to see it (through 9/10/23), I strongly recommend it!

The second exhibit was Noah Harders‘ mask sculptures which were incredible! The masks and photographs of him wearing them were on display. The work is so creative and beautiful- I loved it!

The permanent collections are also pretty cool. I enjoyed the Polynesian Art and Pacific Rim art galleries. I also lucked out and saw a Deborah Butterfield horse. I really like her work. There are two horses near my house- one near the old Sunset magazine headquarters and the other right by Stanford hospital.

There was also a ceiling mounted “Aquarium” by Dale Chihuly.

Overall, I loved this museum. I think the exhibits are thoughtfully presented and the quality of the collection is high. Five stars!

Hawaii, Part II: Fun

Not that the first part of the trip was a hardship, but I definitely had a lot of fun during my last three days in Hawaii.

I went to the airport and picked up the Turo car rental. It was a little old car and I took a ton of pictures in case there were any issues with “damages” at the end of the rental (there were not!). Then, I went to Mitch’s Sushi for lunch which was amazing. There were a few foodies at the conference who recommended the place and they were not lying! The fish was so fresh. I know for the true sushi connoisseur, it’s all about the rice. I don’t know a lot about rice but it was also good! Mitch’s was not cheap, but it was delicious.

Then, I went to check in at the cabanas of Kaneohe Bay. It ended up being a bare bones unit that looked like it was 1/4 of an elongated shed. There was noisy AC and shared bathrooms. Basically, think of it as glamping and it’s amazing. Think of it as a hotel and you’ll be disappointed. I thought of it as the former and it was great! The room was about 20 feet from the beach on Kaneohe Bay. It was beautiful. One of the activities I really wanted to do was kayak out to the sandbar but during my visit, it was too windy to allow rentals so I was out of luck.

That evening, I met up with a med school classmate for dinner with her wife at Senia. They specialize in “regional cuisine focusing on Hawaii’s abundance.” We started with fun cocktails. I had The Freddie (wild turkey bourbon, chestnut, vanilla, blood orange, smoke). We ordered a bottle of wine recommended by the sommelier as a lesser known but excellent French wine (Faury, Saint-Joseph).

The dishes were absolutely amazing. We shared several, which was such a good plan. We had a bone marrow dish that was excellent, although St Germain in Norfolk (RIP) still has the best I’ve had. We had smoked ahi “cigars” (bric pastry, yuzu kosho aioli, chive) that were innovative. Senia, in general, is a big fan of the smoke. The hamachi tataki (cucumber, tomatillo, poha berry) was super refreshing. We shared two larger dishes: the triple smoked salmon (lemon & chive waffles, maple butter glaze) and duck three ways (breast, crispy leg confit, foie gras, orange, port wine gel).

For dessert, we split two. One was a panna cotta and the other was amazing. Hahaha, I can’t remember the name and it doesn’t seem to be on the website menu. One looked like a uni-don, which was very clever and cute.

The bill was pretty crazy and, even crazier, my friend picked it up. WHAT?!?! That was unexpected and overly generous. I am definitely taking them out to someplace great in the Bay Area when they come to visit. My friend works a few per diem days at a nearby university so I definitely want to return the treat!

The next morning, I went to Cafe Kalawe where I had a delicious pancake. Next, I picked up a malasada from Leonard’s mobile stand before heading over to Bellows Beach. The weather was sun-rain-sun accompanied by a lot of wind, but it is so beautiful there. I read my Kindle, so I didn’t have to worry about the wind turning the pages. Over the vacation, I read The Love Letters of W.E.B DuBois, which isn’t exactly a beach read but it is a good book. I recommend it, but it’s pretty heavy. The rest of the day was pretty mellow and I was very excited for my next day’s plans.

I had been wanting to go to the Shangri-La for the longest time. It’s Doris Duke’s former home in Honolulu that was inspired by her honeymoon tour that included tours of the Taj Mahal and other Islamic Art exemplars. I didn’t know about it during my medical student rotation, but I think I knew about it by the late 2000s. But on my various trips, I was never able to make it on a day that it was open as the schedule is pretty limited. This time, I had booked tickets two months in advance and I was ready!

First, I went to Guieb Cafe for breakfast where I had a delicious bao bun egg benedict and fried rice. At this point, if you are wondering if I lost weight on this vacation, I would have to say no. No, I did not. But, you know, vacation!!!

After breakfast, I toured the Honolulu Museum of Art while waiting for the shuttle. The museum is amazing! There are incredible permanent collections of Polynesian art, as well as two temporary exhibits that were breath-taking.

I’m starting to realize this post is getting a little long, so I’ll write about the Honolulu Museum of Art and Shangri-La separately. After the museum and house tour, I went back to Waikiki and had a shave ice at the Island Vintage kiosk. Then I went to the beach for a few hours that included a lot of time in the water. I never went surfing, but I was glad to get in the ocean for an extended swim. After the swim, I decided to have a final shave ice at Ululani’s. I meant to go to Wailoa, but Ululani’s was excellent.

Then I headed back to Kailua, where Brandi and I met up for another, more low-key dinner at Buzz’s. I’m so glad I got to see a friend while in Hawaii. Although she and I weren’t in the same close friend groups at USUHS, we always liked each other so it’s great to still be in touch.

The next day, it was time to go. I had a longer-than-expected-to-pour-over pour-over at Tradition coffee, dropped off the Turo in the airport, went to my gate, and left. I was a little sad but excited to see SMS. I had a wonderful week in Hawaii and I know I’ll be back! Aloha!

Hawaii, Part I: Work

I had so many plans to blog the trip, but here we are, more than month later so I’ll divide it into two parts: work and fun.

I arrived on Friday evening. I travel light with my roll aboard and tote. It was a little tough to manage a work wardrobe and fun clothes, but since it was warm weather attire, it worked. Not sure if I would have been as successful with Winter clothes. After deplaning, I walked to Big Kahuna pizza right outside the airport. I first went here during my medical school rotation so that was awhile ago. I got the garlic cheese balls- they were a little less delicious than I remembered but I’m glad I got to go. Then, I took the $3 bus to Waikiki. I guess I was reliving my student days! I checked into the Moana Surfrider and went to bed.

The next day was the conference start. We had a half-day agenda that started early. Overall, I really enjoyed hearing my colleagues lectures. I learn best from lectures, so it was a great refresh. I went to Murakame Udon for lunch, which was delicious. SMS and I found it during our honeymoon so it has good memories for me!

That evening, I went to the Halekulani for a drink and dinner. I sat at the bar and had a mai tai and poke appetizers. It was really lovely. I walked through the lobby to look at their main floral arrangement, which is always spectacular.

The next day was another morning meeting, adjourning at lunch. I had previously made a brunch reservation for the Orchids at the Halekulani. My chairman and his wife took me up on my invite and we had the best time. The conversation was great, but the food was the star of the show. Oh my gosh, so many mini-stations offering a variety of food: mini-ramen bar; carving stations with turkey, prime rib, and whole suckling pig; sushi, traditional breakfast items; omelet bar; raw bar; and dessert table. At the table, we could order fresh juices and we ordered fresh guava juice, which is so good. It’s not as sweet as canned guava juice, but it tastes so much richer. New favorite, must go back! I also ordered a half-order of Egg Benedict, which had delicious Hollandaise sauce.

Although I was full, I had been pretty good about taking small amounts so it was more of a tasting menu experience rather than “I’m so full I want to die” experience, which is much more pleasant.

That evening, the chairman hosted an evening cocktail party in his suite. The views from his balcony were amazing. I also had a really nice conversation with some of the guest lecturers. It was nice to talk to them outside of the conference.

The next day, I had two of my talks. I had practiced and felt pretty good about both the content and delivery. Like I said in the overview blog post, I hope I get invited back! That evening, there was an evening reception where there was more socializing and I saw a physical therapist I knew when I was a resident! It was so great to see her and her husband.

Finally, we got to the last day of the conference. I delivered my last two talks and then, by noon, that was it! I really enjoyed the conference. It was a pretty laidback introduction to lecturing as a University faculty, which I appreciated. After a late checkout, I headed to the airport. But not to hop on a plane! Instead, I was going to pick up my Turo car rental to have the second half of my Hawaii trip: (more) fun!

2022 Wrap-Up

1. What did you do in 2022 that you’d never done before?

I separated from the Navy! Saw the Grand Canyon! Had a whole month off, where I did a lot of traveling! Started a new job at a major academic center!

2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I make a lot of New Year’s Resolutions, which are not always the SMARTest goals (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Relevant-Time-bound). Some of them are more like guideposts, directions I’d like to aim for when living my life. But actually, I just reviewed my list and I did pretty well last year!

This year, I’ll focus on making morning and evening routines since I’d like to use my time more efficiently and I’ve had some difficulties due to my commute, some leftover work, and, yes, too much phone scrolling.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My friend and former training partner had her second baby. Here comes Auntie Caroline!

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

3.  England, Germany, and Switzerland as part of my last-minute trip during my month off. It was a real delight to have that flexibility and the trip itself was fantastic.

I also had an amazing amount of domestic travel and visited so many national parks.

6. What would you like to have in 2023 that you lacked in 2022?

Relating to my resolutions, a more consistent approach to wellness and exercise in the form of a morning routine.  There was a lot of flux last year so now that things are steadier, I really want to maximize my early mornings.  Doesn’t work for everyone but it’s a great time for me!

7. What dates from 2022 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31 March: Accepted my new job

17 June: Last day at work and Hail & Farewell

June-July: Amazing trips and sights in National Parks and abroad

1 Aug: First day at work

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

Getting my new job! The job hunt was a little stressful, since my search was so geographically limited. Although I had turned in my resignation papers to the Navy last September (’21), the job hunting process really accelerated in Jan-Mar ’22. I am very proud of myself for finally understanding the interview process and how to prepare for behavioral questions (STAR acronym works great). I felt like I belonged and if it didn’t work out, then it was just a suboptimal fit rather than an interview bobble or mistake. As it turns out, I had two top choices. One was perfect and is where I am today (love!). And the other just wasn’t a great fit even though there were some great moments during that interview process as well.

Also, I negotiated certain aspects really well, which made me feel very competent. I did slightly bobble a verbal offer phone call, where I could have hammered out terms a little earlier and saved a revision step on the written offer, but it wasn’t a big deal. I just wasn’t sure how to handle negotiations without an actual written starting point in front of me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, SMS and I really wanted a house. A lot of factors went against us, starting with my job hunt since the bank knew that I could potentially have a gap in employment. Of course, I wouldn’t have since I could have done locums work, but it caused us to miss late ‘21/early ’22 buying opportunities. Then, Spring ’22 had an absolutely ridiculous run-up in prices and then interest rates eroded our purchasing power in a major way. This is a huge macro trend that impacted so many people, but on the micro, self-centered level, the crazy market of ’22 left us cold on buying a house. Plus, the houses around here in our price range tend to be really expensive piles that need a lot of work.  Boo!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really. I got COVID in June 2022 and missed my 20th college reunion, which I was bummed about. I also decided to do the Couch-to-5-K training program at the end of the year so I could get back into a more consistent running habit without hurting myself in the process. #40s.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

SMS and I bought a king-sized bed! It’s so comfortable. And although I’ve always loved them in hotel rooms, it feels almost too big as a daily sleeper.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Savings, vacations, rent. I’m starting to think this question should go away.  It’s a little silly. I mean, I feel the answer is boring unless I answer hookers and blow.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Hookers and blow.  Hahaha.

I really love my job and I’m excited about my mid-career transition. I feel like I have at least 20 more years in me so it’s nice to have that large of a timeline to do great things!

14. What song will always remind you of 2022?

Anti-Hero, since it was everywhere the last month of the year!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier.

– thinner or fatter? Fatter, but I will give myself a little grace that there were a lot of things in flux this year. Also, our new apartment complex has a gym so I’m excited to have consistent healthy habits as a goal this year.

– richer or poorer? Richer, although $LCID has not really helped with that.

16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?

I sort of wish that I had taken more time off between jobs but I had plenty of travel in June and July to feel like I had a great break. The month off was enough time given that no paycheck was coming in and we were spending money on vacations. Also, I really wanted to get started at my new job.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Phone-scrolling. I’m going to establish more of an evening routine that involves no phone! [Verbatim from last year]

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With SMS’ family with a Christmas dinner of Turducken! I also had an early “Christmas” with my family minus my resident physician sister 🙁 in Navarre, FL. 

19. What was your favorite TV program?

White Lotus, hopped on the bandwagon late for that one! I also enjoyed Hacks. Next up is Wednesday, I think, based on recs from several people.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Fiction: Great Circle by Shipstead, Black Cake by Wilkerson, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Doerr, Nightcrawling by Mottley, Lessons in Chemistry by Garnus

Non-fiction: Mindset by Dweck, Undoing Project by Lewis, Hammerhead 6 by Frye, The Power of Regret by Pink, Medical Apartheid by Washington, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Lewis

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I enjoyed Harry’s House. I listened to Brothers Osborne Skeletons album, which was released in 2020. And ok, ok, I liked Taylor Swift and I even scored two tickets for next Summer. (I really wished I maxed out on six tickets and gently scalped them. Missed opportunity!). I really want to be cooler than mentioning Taylor Swift twice in a yearly wrap-up yet here we are.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Knives Out: Glass Onion. I really didn’t watch a lot of movies, but will keep better track this year!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

42. I went to the spa in the afternoon and then SMS & I went out to a charcoal grill yakitori restaurant. Pretty mellow since SMS felt a little under the weather.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having a magic wand to separate keep/trash items when it comes to moving and unpacking.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2022?

A little slobby in my off-hours but this is the year I finally gave in to high-waisted jeans. Ugh, so unflattering but so on trend.

26. What kept you sane?

Maintaining a mindset of appreciation and gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life, maybe mixed in with a dash of the St Francis and Serenity prayers.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2022.

I am not an “everything happens for a reason” person, but being adaptable and appreciative helps me through uncertain times.

Southwest Apocolypse

After a great extended weekend in San Diego, SMS and I were sitting outside with his parents eating lunch. We knew our flight was slightly delayed, but were enjoying some extra sunshine. Until SMS looked down at his phone, looked up, and said, “Our flight’s cancelled.” Within the next 15 minutes or so, we figured out that Southwest had a massive spate of cancellations and that a simple rebook would not be the answer to our problems.

We briefly considered driving back, but SMS gave it a swift veto. I looked up ticket prices on other airlines, which were not cheap. SMS decided that he would stay in San Diego for a few more days. I “had” to get back to work so started to search for alternatives. I put “had” in quotes because I don’t think I’m the center of the universe. I wanted to fulfill my work obligations, but I felt I could figure out some colleague cross-coverage. But still, I had a shift at the hospital, a planned surgery, and a few days of clinic during a lightly staffed week.

I figured LAX would be my best bet and after a few false starts, I booked a 10p flight on United. Although Rip was super-generous in offering to drive me to LAX, I didn’t want him to suffer in post-holiday traffic due to my workaholic tendencies. I booked a ticket on FlixBus to LA.

The bus stop

Flixbus picked up a load of passengers in Old Town San Diego. I was a little worried that there were too many people for the bus, but we managed to all fit. It took about 20 minutes since people were throwing hissy fits about not having their assigned seat. The main problem was the bus we were on did not match the layout of the seat reservation diagram. But people had paid $1.99 for their reservation and weren’t backing down so the poor driver tried to get everyone off the bus and back on. I was in the back and a guy yelled out, “We’re fine back here” so several of us hung back while the troublemakers in the front shuffled seats.

We were on our way! Traffic moved well. I sat next to a woman with a small baby who, miraculously, slept the whole time. Angel! Union Station in LA is a very beautiful Art Deco-style building that was decorated for the holidays.

I had thought about going to Little Tokyo for dinner, but I decided that I could get similar food in the Bay Area. Plus, I wanted to see a new-to-me part of town. I went to the Arts District for dinner at Wurstküche. Although I have very good intentions for eating well in the New Year, it’s not 2023 yet! And I know, should good habits start today rather than some New Year? Obviously…not! So, I had a vegetarian Mexican Chipotle sausage, Belgian-style fries that were incredible, and a beer. So tasty!

Then, I took the LAFlyer to LAX. Man, buses are really a good deal! The traffic outside the airport was crazy, but inside the terminal wasn’t bad at all. I pretty much just walked up to the TSA Security officer and was behind the gates in no time. I tried to get on an earlier flight, but it was full. I only had an hour to wait and, in the interim, got bumped up to first class!

The flight was uneventful apart from some mild turbulence. My seat was right at the front, which was great for disembarking. I decided to continue the theme of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. I took the BART to Caltrain on the last trains of the night. I walked home in the rain and was so happy to be in the our beautiful apartment building. I felt less at peace inside the apartment where it looks like a hoarder’s paradise. However, I have a pre-New Year’s resolution to make a significant dent in the clutter so hopefully, our apartment will be a serene oasis for 2023!