Williams Reunion 2017

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View from Pine Cobble

I loved my time at Williams.  It was a really special time in my life- an intense cerebral-minded place filled with really smart, interesting people (but let’s be real, there was also a lot of partying).  Although I feel I’d be even more appreciative of it now than I was in my late teens/early twenties (see previous parenthetical), I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a formative experience there.  I also realize that there are many avenues to getting a great education and I am glad that I had such great parents who always encouraged me to do my best and not quit, even when I wanted to (I’m looking at you, organic chemistry!!!).

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Overlooking Greylock Quad

Why these warm feelings?  I just came back from my 15th Reunion!  I had missed my 10th when I was on the USNS Mercy so it was important to me to make this one.  I missed the Berkshires and really wanted to go back.  June is usually lovely and I was excited to go and re-meet people I had gone to school with so long ago.  I realize that there are many more reunions to come (hopefully) and that one day, I’ll roll my eyes at my 2017 self thinking that 15 years is a long time but really, a lot of living and life events have happened during that time!

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I had planned my trip back based on the college’s website which said reunion was 8-11 June.  Well, my class really had things on 9-10 so arriving early on the 8th meant that Morgan Hall was pretty empty.  I felt like a first-year wondering who my friends were going to be that night!

Backtracking a little, I landed in Albany and picked up my rental car where I recognized a woman I had been in school with.  We spoke briefly and then went off our separate ways.  I took a meandering route through Vermont and ended up on Rte. 2.  I drove out to Shelburne Falls and went to the Glacier Potholes and Bridge of Flowers.  It’s picturesque and a place I would visit the Summer of ’01 when I worked in a Williams lab.  The glacier potholes were so much fun to swim in.  “Were?” you ask.  Yes, unfortunately.  The town has cordoned off the potholes as they decided it was too much of a liability.  Apparently, it’s a miracle I survived my youth.

I also stopped in at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, a frequent stop on roadtrips across Rte 2.  I ate lunch at Rollin Dough, a portable wood oven pizza place outside of the coffee shop.  I had a delicious 1/2 pizza, tomato and burrata.  Deelicious!  If you are passing by, I highly recommend this roadside stand!

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Behind the scenes of beautiful Instagram shots!

I headed back to Williamstown and checked in for reunion weekend, which included lodging in Morgan Hall for $80.  Excellent!  I met up with a few acquaintances and we went out for tapas and drinks at Hops & Vines.   It’s weird to type “acquaintances” because I feel they are now friends but at the time, they were people I certainly remembered but had never interacted with at length.  We talked about our current lives and certain highlights of Williams.  A few of them had been at the Williams at Oxford program, which sounded fantastic.  I did not study abroad due to a double major + pre-med work that I wanted to complete in four years.  I definitely had to be goal-oriented because it was a choice to take classes I wasn’t necessarily interested in but needed to complete pre-med requirements.  As a result, I didn’t take Art History 101 (*single tear*) or study abroad.  I’m glad I made the choice I did but it was fun to hear about other Williams experience, especially seen with 15 years perspective.

We also had great political discussions that I really enjoyed.  While you might imagine that there’s a certain political leaning among most Williams graduates, I found people’s viewpoints to be very nuanced and well-considered.

On Friday, I headed to MASS MoCA with two friends.  The collection is incredible.  James Turrell has a temporary exhibit with interesting manipulations of light.  Our trio’s favorite exhibit was Spencer Fitch’s “Cosmic Latte.”

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A bigger photo of Cosmic Latte

Friday afternoon saw the arrival of some of my close friends, whom I had last seen during our November trip.  Two women from our November trip couldn’t make it and Gisele is still over in Europe.  Our class had a casual dinner that night and it was really delightful to talk to so many people.  I really had the best time and it was a late night, ending at the Purple Pub.

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A note on the Purple Pub and other buildings in the area.  In no way did I feel that Williams was austere when I went there but the current swankiness of the buildings and facilities (minus the dorm beds) is unbelievable.  The architecture is world-class and the new Sawyer-Stenson quad is exquisite.  I can’t believe that the class size (~525) is still the same- it’s such seemingly overabundance of riches.

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Alumni parade!

Saturday was a Williamstown day.  We ran, went out for coffee, marched in the alumni parade where we closed down Rte 2 (not much different than the 10 minutes between classes during the academic year), went to the all-campus lunch, hiked Stone Hill, ate ice cream and got ready for the Saturday night dinner and party.  Our party went late and we ended up getting crashed by current students, the class of ’07 and the class of ’82.  So clearly, it was a great party.  I ended the night again at the Purple Pub, this time with several people from the Class of ’82.

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Sunday was the day of departures.  Marissa and I hiked up Pine Cobble, which had fantastic views.  Then we went back into town and said goodbye to each other and to Hillary and Jason.  After my friends left, I went to the snack bar for a bit before leaving the dorm room around 11:30.  I went to the Clark Art Institute with its fantastic collection.  Then I got a Lickety Split ice cream (so good!) and a Papa Charlie’s sandwich and hit the road.  I got home late but it was worth it to maximize my Berkshires weekend.  I’d like to get back in between reunions but if I can’t, I am really looking forward to the 20th!

PS: Where was SMS?  Home.  He didn’t have enough vacation time, plus it wasn’t his reunion so interest wasn’t super-high.  As it turned out,  a lot of people came sans spouse unless the spouse was a fellow Williams grad.  Since it had been so long, I felt like I was meeting people for the first time so introductions could have been hard.  Someday, though, I will definitely take SMS to this amazing place!

Memorial Day Weekend

After the marathon, I hopped in the car to head back North to Mountain View.  Did I stretch?  No.  Possibly a mistake but I don’t think anything was really going to help with the soreness I’d feel over the next few days.

I hurried back to the hotel and took a quick shower.  SMS and I headed to Santa Barbara where we went to Handlebar Coffee Roasters, where they had great espresso!  Although there are many lovely places to eat lunch in Santa Barbara, we headed to Isla Vista (home of UCSB).  There we went to Woodstock’s Pizza and had wings and Wildebread with cheese.  It was delicious!

After a quick walk, we headed back to the car and drove to Firestone Walker Brewery.  The beers were very…creative.  We had a few we liked (DBA, Parabola) and a few we didn’t.  After a few samples, we drove past Paso Robles to visit his Grand-uncle, cousin and his wife.  We had a delicious dinner and it was really interesting listening to Al’s stories about his time in the military and LAPD.  We hung out for awhile but left reluctantly in order to make it back home that night.  SMS felt great but I hit a wall (second time in a day) and kept drifting off on the way back.  I wanted to keep SMS company while he drove but it was hard!

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A present from SMS!

The next day, we had a low-key day.  We went to Chromatic for coffee, hung out around the house and at 5:30, had an appointment at Watercourse Way!  Hooray!  The hot tub and cold water plunge felt great!  Afterwards, we went out to dinner with our close friends.  It was a really great weekend and we did so!much!  Hooray for three-day weekends and although the holiday is solemn, it is nice to celebrate and appreciate what we have while remembering the context of others’ incredible sacrifice.

Boston Marathon 2017 Recap

The Boston Marathon was a dream experience.  Seriously.  My love for running is renewed and I am so happy.  I feel so effusive that if I kept typing, I’m sure the average (sane) person would think, “Is she for real?”  Yes!  There are some reality checks in this recap so I promise, it is a balanced perspective with several highs and a few lows.  Also, I don’t know why I’m finding it now, but this article has the best mile-by-mile analysis of the course itself if you want a more “objective” overview.

Ok, but I’m going to stick to Marathon Monday.  I slept until 6:45 and then I was awake!  My training partner had noted the day before that, as Wave 3, we didn’t have to get on the buses until 8 a.m.  Sweet, sweet sleeping in….yeah right!  Too excited!

We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard downtown, which was about a 1/2 mile from the bus loading area.  I went to the Hilton around the corner, picked up to Starbucks, picked up Jyotsna and then headed over to Charles St.  Jyotsna had a gear check bag, which was about a 1/4 mile in the other direction on Boylston St.  The gear check was very smooth, both drop-off and pick-up since at the finish, you just kept walking ‘till you reached your stuff.  The Adidas plastic bags were fairly thick and had drawstrings, making them pretty secure.

We both had our little plastic baggies approved for the start line area/Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, filled with snacks and water.  There were freebies in Athletes Village (Clif, Gatorade, bananas, water, sunscreen) but we felt better having our own stuff, especially our breakfast of choice.  There were donation boxes for castaway gear which filled up fast because, unfortunately, it was very warm.  Very, very warm. 

Oh, the weather.  Forget heartbreak hill, the weather was the heartbreak.  The average course temp was 74 degrees and I know!  It makes me sound like such a whiny baby to say it was hot!  But I once read that in long-distance running, a runner should dress for 20 degrees warmer because that is how it feels.  I would definitely agree with that ballpark estimate.  Continue reading “Boston Marathon 2017 Recap”

April in Photos and Bulletpoints

After an amazing pre-birthday weekend, I had a workweek followed by a North Carolina weekend.  On Saturday, I had some FDA-required training that is necessary before using a Eustachian Tube Dilating balloon.  I ate at Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh where I ordered a chicken ‘n’ waffle- of course!

The next day, I went to New Bern, NC where I hung out with my sister-in-law and my adorable nephew.  We had another delicious lunch and had a really nice day of hanging out.  I was excited to see their place since they are moving to California soon(ish), where they will be down the road from us!  Ok, ok, like 75 minutes down the road but better than the current distance!

I also had late night drinks with friends on my birthday, which was very enjoyable.  And we stayed out until after midnight which had not been in the plans but was definitely ok!

After that, I had my focus on the Boston Marathon!  Posts coming!  In the meantime…

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*My love for Popeye continues.  I have cooled it on stalking the local SCPA pages, at least for now.  I travel a little too much, unfortunately (for my dog loving aspirations.  Otherwise, it’s cool!)

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* My parents send the funniest cards.

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*The Cristiano Ronaldo memes were so funny after a statue dedicated to him but of questionable likeness was unveiled!

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*Sigh.  Why did I spend 5 years of residency learning ENT surgery when I could have just gone to Lowe’s and powered up?

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*I’m getting ready for a return of more protein, fewer refined carbs!  This is a meal prep photo of my Trader J’s smoked trout salad, courtesy of my friend Jyostna!

*I need to keep my phone on higher charge levels.

Charleston Bachelorette Weekend!

Last weekend, I went to Charleston to celebrate my friend!  It was her bachelorette party weekend, hosted by her best friend from high school.  We spent the weekend at her friend’s house in Mt. Pleasant, just across the bridge from Charleston.  It was a great group of women, most of whom I was meeting for the first time.

The lovely house, clearly not at midnight!

I arrived after midnight and within 5 minutes, had exchanged a lot of hugs and had a glass of wine in my hand.  Two thoughts: 1. Score and 2. There goes tomorrow’s long run plans!  We stayed up until 4 a.m, talking, catching up, and drink wine with the occasional Jello shot thrown in.  Yes, really!  We could hang with our college-aged selves I think.

Until we couldn’t, hahaha.  The next morning was a little rough although for me, it was mostly the lack of sleep.  We got up at 8:45 to go for a 5 mile run (better than nothing!) before heading to Bendy Brewski, a yoga session held at the Ghost Monkey brewery.  The class was pretty awesome and I felt very healthy afterwards.  I tried two stouts at the brewery- an Oyster Stout and Old Russian Imperial.  I really liked the Oyster Stout and will be on the lookout for another.  I know Flying Dog has one but I think they’re a little misogynistic, naming beers after ex-girlfriends in pretty unflattering ways so I’m not going to support that!

The crew, old friends and new photobomber friends!

Anyway, we started getting pree-tty hungry after no food and all that activity so we took a rideshare over to Coleman Public House.   We had a delicious brunch with shared appetizers and a main.  The appetizers were delicious- crab & corn fritters, pimento cheese dip, rosemary popcorn and mac ‘n’ cheese.  It’s so nice being in a big group- I got to try a bite or two of everything!  For my main, I ate half of a Fungi burger with Gruyere, mushrooms, caramelized onions and truffle oil. It was delicious.  The burger was huge so I saved the rest for later, which ended up being at 3 a.m when I was denied a biscuit (see later in post!). 

Initially, we had big plans for the afternoon but since they were sun-dependent, we decided to go back to Stephanie’s house.  Several people watched Ali Wong’s “Baby Cobra” comedy special but I Irish-goodbye’d it and went off to take a nap.  Pretty much everyone napped that afternoon and we all agreed that was probably the best way to spend the afternoon! Continue reading “Charleston Bachelorette Weekend!”

Stuart, FL Weekend

This past weekend, I flew to Stuart, FL for a family visit.  It had been years since I visited Florida and my visit was long overdue.  Fortunately, my grandfather and Dusty agreed rather than saying, “No, no, take your time.   No need to visit!”

So, yes!  I bought my Delta ticket and headed down to the Sunshine State.  I arrived on Saturday afternoon.  My grandfather was waiting for me at the exit gate.  I think it’s always nice to see someone there although I do understand the convenience of just picking someone up at the curb.  We hopped in the car and drove about 45 minutes to Stuart.

I was lucky to get a family two-fer visit for the the weekend as my Uncle was there!  We went to Mass in the afternoon and then headed to Jupiter Hills for dinner.  The food was excellent although I have a terrible picture showing off my meal.  I only took it to brag to my Mom that I had a lobster but then I didn’t even send it.  Since she’s on an amazing fancypants vacation right now, I figured my meal wouldn’t be that impressive to her.   But then again, it was lobster, polenta and asparagus and it was delicious!

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Lazy Lobster- all the meat was already freed!  I do not think Food and Wine will be calling my for my photography skills.

On Sunday, I worked out, relaxed and then headed out to dinner with Grandpa and Dusty.  I had an excellent sea bass (not Chilean!) with crab for a Chesapeake dish.  Yes please!  Grandpa was tempted to be the manners enforcer for a guy wearing a hat in the restaurant but then decided (I think) that the man was a lost cause anyway.

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Monday was a lot of fun because we headed out into old Stuart.  The Elliott Museum houses an amazing car collection.  In addition, there is neat sequence of early bicycle innovations designed and built by Sterling Elliott, an inventor and entrepreneur.  The museum was established by his son and also has some large Americana collections, most of which came from  a museum in Massachusetts (thanks Wikipedia!).

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The circle surrounds Grandpa’s favorite car- a 1930s Rolls Royce. An excellent choice!

We went on a docent-led tour.  Dusty and I had our interest wane a little bit after 20 minutes.  Grandpa decided that we were not lost causes so he told us that if we stopped talking, we might learn something (ha,ha,ha).  After the tour, we looked at the cars and the National Geographic photo exhibition, which was striking.  There were also some Audubon society pictures so I took a picture of a picture of a snowy plover (my favorite!).

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Snowy!

Then it was time for lunch!  We went to Old Stuart, where we ate at the Riverwalk Cafe and Oyster Bar.  Dusty and I ordered oyster stew, which was delicious.  I was happy to order something very Florida-y.  Although I went to the gym afterwards and I would not recommend oyster stew as the ideal pre-workout snack.

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I saw a turtle on my golf cart ride to the gym!

Later that afternoon, I was dropped off at the airport *boo hoo.*  I will definitely be back and I have a standing invitation (yay!).  Next time, Dusty and I have plans to go shopping as well as hang out in old Stuart a little more.

Perfect Weekend in Austin

As a gainfully employed engineer in the private sector, SMS doesn’t get that many Federal holidays off.  When I realized that he did have Presidents’ Day off, my travel-loving mind started scheming.  Result: weekend in Austin!  Neither SMS nor I had ever been.  It sounded like a lot of fun and, possibly, even warm!

The weekend was awesome!  I booked an AirBnB in South Austin, which was a little further South than I originally thought looking at the map.  But we overcame with a combo of a rental car and the two bikes that we could use through our apartment rental.  I had looked for hotels downtown but they were really expensive.  I suspect it was a high-demand weekend because of the Austin marathon.  I briefly thought about running the half but then decided I’d rather spend all of my time with SMS and eating queso, not necessarily in that order.

Continue reading “Perfect Weekend in Austin”