DC Report

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Brock and I just got back from a long trip to Washington, D.C. It was our bar trip (for those not in the law school loop, people often take trips after they take the bar but before they begin working, hence "bar trip") and also what I consider our second honeymoon. I did an internship in DC when I was in college (4.5 years ago!) and hadn't been back since. Brock had never been, so I was so excited to show him around. Getting on the Metro right after we landed and hearing the automated voice say "doors closing" made me so nostalgic. I really felt like if I closed my eyes and focused hard enough, I would find myself 21 again, figuring out how to be an adult and becoming the person I was meant to be. It made me so overwhelmingly happy.

It was an amazing trip. Here are some thoughts and pictures:

-We walked everywhere and it felt great. Something I remembered from living in DC was how walkable everything is. If the Metro didn't get you exactly where you needed to go, walking 20 or 30 minutes wasn't a big deal at all. I found it to be true again this time too. The first few days, we took the Metro, but by the fourth day we just walked wherever we were going. It would take 40 minutes to get downtown (or an hour to get to Georgetown) but that was part of the fun. We loved looking at the changing neighborhoods and fun restaurants.
An side effect of all that walking. Brock said he took this so we would remember what our trip was really like- me stopping to fix my socks every 10 minutes. Ps- Behind me is the new African-American Museum. It just opened this week!

-Brock and I travel well together. It's something I knew before this, of course, but it's always nice to have it reinforced. We both love museums and trying new places to eat, and have so many overlapping interests. It was so fun to be together without any real responsibilities and we really fell more in love on this trip.

-We got to meet up with my college bestie Laurie and her husband Gerhard! I hadn't seen Laurie in years and it was so good to see her again. Since Brock and I just moved to a new area I haven't really made any new friends yet which made it all the better to talk to someone who knew me well. It was just a great way to connect and our conversations together were so fascinating. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

I bet if I looked through Facebook long enough I could find a ton more pictures of us in this exact pose. 

-We stayed in the Bloomingdale/LeDroit Park area in a little basement apartment from Airbnb. It was an interesting side of DC that I hadn't seen when I lived there. It had amazing old row houses and fun restaurants. It actually reminded us a lot of where we lived in Chicago, right down to the nonstop sirens, so that made us feel right at home.

-It was a crazy feeling to be walking around or on a bus and suddenly see something that I clearly remembered from my internship days but that I had completely forgotten. This happened with multiple bookstores and the whole Adams Morgan neighborhood- an "Oh! I've been here before!" moment. It was so fun.
Barlow Center! Where I lived while in DC

-Even though I had lived in DC before there was still a lot of things that I hadn't done, which made it all the more fun to do with Brock. Somehow I had never been to the zoo, which is crazy, but again, was so fun to do with Brock. He is a HUGE animal lover and has turned me into one too, so we try to go to all the zoos we can. And this zoo was amazing- plus, we happened to be in the reptile house during feeding time and saw all the snakes eating their mice/rats! I understand that some people would find this revolting, but Brock and I thought that we had the best of luck to happen upon that. It was so cool. 

Other places we went together where I hadn't been include the Botanic Gardens (so beautiful), the American Indian Museum (slightly boring), and the Supreme Court (which was cool but a million times cooler for Brock, obviously).

Making Brock's dreams come true at the Supreme Court. 

-I was so sad to leave because it kind of felt that our trip had become our new life. I would forget for hours at a time that I had a son and that we actually lived in California and not in the capital. It's been good to come back and so wonderful to reunite with James (he's grown up so much in the past week), but I know that I will always treasure that time together. It's a good thing we have a million new inside jokes and two weeks before Brock starts work so it's not too jarring of a transition.

Some Ramblings

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Could he be any cuter? I do not think it is possible
I often have all these thoughts float through my head and I think "Hey, I want to write about these!" But they're not long enough for a full blog post and I'm not on Twitter so I decided to put some of random thoughts all together here.

-It feels so weird to see a lot of the world celebrating fall when the temperatures here are constant at 78 and none of the leaves are changing. Even though I grew up in California and was used to the absence of seasons, I miss them now that I have lived places where fall is so beautiful.

-We went to a new library branch yesterday and the building was small and adorable and I fell in love as soon as I walked in. They had a nice children's section that James flipped out over and I was planning out our future trips here and basically imagining this becoming our new library home. But then I started talking to the librarian. And it turns out they are closing the branch in January to tear it down and rebuild. When I asked why (very aghast) the librarian said, "Well, this was built in 1961 and it's just pretty old." What? That's not old! My dad was born in 1961 and he's not old! I don't know why this is bothering me so much but it really is.

-Brock and I are leaving in a few days for our first trip alone since having James. I'm so excited. I think the plane ride alone will be blissful. Imagine- I can read, sleep, listen to music, all without a screaming toddler! I actually cannot imagine, that's how foreign the concept is to me. I'm also looking forward to sleeping in, not worrying about naps or strollers or any of that. But I tend to get anxiety about trips (well, actually about a lot of things, but trips are on the list) and it's been hitting me hard today. I'm just trusting that everything will go well with our plans and we will have a great vacation/second honeymoon.

-I just finished the book Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg and found it maddening! Has anyone else read it? I just really wish I could talk about it with someone.

-I cannot get over how wonderful it is that James has his own room now. Bedtime and nap routines are so much simpler and our quality of life has improved SO MUCH. I hope that I never stop being grateful for this because that year and a half of him sleeping in the kitchen was so hard.

That's all that's been on my mind today- what about you?

Photos taken by Brock

Recently Read: September

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share what I've been reading lately. I've been so satisfied with my reading choices the past few weeks and have been having great luck with audiobooks, so all around I'm very happy with my current reading life.

1. My Antonia by Willa Cather
This was actually a reread for me. I read it over 6 years ago(!) and didn't like it that much. But since I'm actively trying to reread one book a month I decided to give this a shot for September and was surprised how good it was. It tells the story of Antonia, a Bohemian girl who comes to Nebraska when she's a teenager. The story is told through her childhood playmate and it was so good. I listened to it on audiobook and I think that helped me like it more. That and the fact that I'm more mature now, I'm sure.

2. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
I loved this memoir so much. Kelly Corrigan talks about how much she needs her mother and her realization of just how much she needs her grows all the time. The book is centered upon Kelly's time as a nanny in Australia where she worked for a family whose mother had passed away. That experience forced her to reexamine her own upbringing and her mother's impact on her. This book is funny and so sweet, and really made me think about ways I can affect my child (and future children).

3. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I wrote a bit about this book here, but it's worth mentioning again. This book is about mothers and daughters, and there was so much truth in this book about loneliness, poverty, family ties, and growing up. I know I am going to reread this in the future.

4. Boy by Roald Dahl
Like many others, I loved Roald Dahl and his sometimes twisted sense of humor (has anyone else ever read Skin? It's so weird!). And since I love memoirs, I knew this one would not disappoint. Dahl tells colorful stories from childhood and describes idyllic Norwegian summers and less than idyllic boarding school experiences. I listened to this on audiobook and it was quick and so interesting. Also, fun fact, if anyone else has wondered what book Kathleen Kelly is reading during storytime in You've Got Mail, it's this book!

5. The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
To be honest, I'm conflicted about this memoir (related question: Do I read too many memoirs?). There were so many good parts but I just wasn't sure I liked J.R. all that much. And that makes it hard for me to like the book overall. But I did appreciate his personal journey and also how tied he was to his birthplace. There is something special to me when people are really connected to where they are born and raised, and I loved how drawn J.R. was to Long Island and the bar.

Explore Your Passions

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I know that title is SO cheesy, but it's been something I've been thinking about lately. I've realized that pursuing your random, weird passions will bring added happiness to your life. This idea first struck me while reading Gretchen Rubin's blog where she talks about intense interests (you can read the post here).

 At various times I have felt passionately interested in a weird variety of subjects including colonial children captured by Native Americans, government housing projects in Chicago, women's health (including breastfeeding and fertility, long before I wanted to get pregnant), the Balkans, race relations in the U.S., prisons, and linguistics.

They were all sparked in small ways. For instance, when I visited Brock in Boise for the very first time, we toured the fascinating Old Idaho State Penitentiary. I tried to imagine what it was like to have been in that prison, and that trip sparked a huge interest in jails of all types. I have since read accounts of jails in various countries and different time periods and spend way too much time thinking about prisons.

A few years later, in Chicago, I was talking with a woman who mentioned that her boyfriend had grown up in the projects and talked about about how his childhood affected their relationship. I thought, "Huh, what would it be like to grow up in the projects?" And that thought led me to so many different books that taught me about this experience.

My newest passion (though most of the above still captivates me) is photography. Specifically, photographs of people. Bonus points if the pictures are from more than 50 years ago, but I'm not too particular.

There wasn't any small spark that I can remember, but since I just checked two giant photography books out of the library I am going to declare it official. I have no desire to become a photographer, but I know that I become single-mindedly absorbed whenever I'm looking at old photographs and that feeling gives me such great joy.

My point in all this is that my weird interests have taught me so much and really made me happier. I want to encourage you to explore your passions and interests, in whatever shape they come along.

I tend to dive into mine primarily through reading extensively on the subject, but for you it might different. Maybe it comes in the form of taking a class or a trip or mastering a skill by watching YouTube videos. But whatever it is, I believe that finding these passions enriches lives and brings happiness in a new way.

Do you have any intense interests or passions? How do you explore them?

Four Books About the Immigrant Experience in America

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I love grouping books based thematic similarities. For this list, I pulled together four books that all deal with immigrant experiences in America. I am so interested in outsider perspectives on America because it always makes me see my cultural tendencies (often ones I don't know I have) in a new light. Though most of these are fiction, their stories still offer valuable insights.

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
This is one of my favorite novels of all time. Lahiri powerfully tells the story of Indian immigrants who move to the U.S. The story eventually shifts to their son, whose conflict with his name is kind of an allegory for how he feels as a first-generation American.

2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Perhaps my favorite part about Americanah is that it deals with both American race issues and immigrant issues. I am fascinated by both and loved how this amazing novel about a Nigerian woman moving to America blended the two issues. The issues she faces as a non-American black woman really made me think. Just as a warning, there is a pretty graphic scene in here that I actually skipped over (I got what happened from context).

3. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Dumas and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when she was a child, and her perspective feels so unique. She tells a vibrant story about how she felt moving to America from a place that most Americans viewed negatively. I especially loved learning about the Persian culture from the glimpses she shares in her book- their celebrations of spring and their ideas of family really stuck out to me.

4. Brooklyn by Colm Tobin
Brooklyn tells the story of an Irish girl who comes to America in the years following World War II. It has a little bit of everything: work drama, love drama, family drama, plus all the intricacies that go along with moving alone to a new country.  I loved the way this book described Eilis's personal transformation to a confident woman and was absolutely torn by the very real dilemma the book presents.

Do you have any immigrant related books to add to this list? I'm always interested to read more.

A Difference Between Adults and Children

Sunday, September 4, 2016

While at the park with James a month or so ago, we ran into a group of kids from a summer camp. About 5 or 6 surrounded James and told me how cute he was and tried to get him to talk to them. When he didn't, they looked up at me and asked, "What's his name?" They talked to him and about him a little more before asking, "How old is he?"

I found this to be so interesting. Almost without exception, whenever I would start talking to another parent at the park the very first question we ask each other is, "How old is he/she?" The name comes much later, and usually only after we swapped more info about how much our respective children talked/walked/enjoyed their toys, etc.

On reflecting on this difference between the way we communicated, I couldn't help but remember my favorite passage from The Little Prince (by Antonie de Saint-Exupery) that addresses this exact thing.
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friends, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, 'What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?' Instead, they demand: 'How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?' Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
I don't exactly know what to take away from all this, but it is something I can't stop thinking about whenever I talk to a child.