Good Morning, Baltimore: Day Trip from DC

Sometimes I wish I had a boat

Sometimes I wish I had a boat

Why: I’d been meaning to get to Charm City for months. Seafood galore!

When: Sunday, April 7, 2013. Lovely first sunny-springy day of the season.

How: On Tuesday, Theo and I talked about going to a baseball game at Orioles’ park thanks to a ticket hookup. By Friday we had roped in more friends and decided to cut the game and just visit the city on Sunday. I researched activities on sites like New York Times 36 Hours (they’ve covered Baltimore 3 times in 7 years), mapped out a few activity options, and left the rest up to be played by ear. Since our group included four carless DCers, we rented a Zipcar for the day. The drive from downtown DC took just over an hour.

How Much: Costs included the car rental, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks. We didn’t pay entrance fees at any sites (e.g. the aquarium is around $30 pp, American Visionary Art Museum is $16, Fort McHenry is $7) because most of our activities involved either walking around or eating/drinking. Instead of renting a car, it would have been possible to take the train or bus from DC and rely on public transportation, like the excellent/free Charm City Circulator bus.

Harbor view from Federal Hill

Harbor view from Federal Hill

What we did: My main priority was seafood eating, so the first stop of the day was L.P. Steamers, recommended for its “authentic” vibe and blue crabs. Well, actually, our first stop, upon realizing the restaurant wasn’t quite open yet at 11am, was a wine bar. Another good thing about travel, it doesn’t feel weird at all to drink in the a.m.! It was the rest of the group’s first Maryland crab experience, and as Theo put it, “That was absolutely the correct choice to go there, but I never want to do it again.” I, of course, like high-activity/DIY meals (e.g. fondue, artichokes, Korean BBQ) and was therefore delighted.

Next up was a stroll to For McHenry, famous for its role in the War of 1812 and the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner. Hey, do you know this story? Key actually wasn’t at the fort; he apparently sailed his ship out directly into the midst of the British forces and was captured, so he spent the night sitting as prisoner watching the battle unfold as the British attempted to take the fort. Obvi, when he saw that banner yet wave in the morning light, he knew the Americans had held the fort. Sidenote: our attitude about the War of 1812 is slightly ridiculous; this is a topic about which I feel fairly strongly. Anyway, there’s a nice museum and movie that are free to visit; we elected not to pay the entrance fee to visit the fort itself (seeing from the outside=almost always good enough!)

Cannolis from Piedrigotta

Cannolis from Piedrigotta

From Fort McHenry, we drove towards the Inner Harbor, passing the American Visionary Art Museum and stopping by Federal Hill Park. Twelve minutes in the parking meter got us a walk up the hill, great views over the harbor and city, and a walk past some of Baltimore’s tonier real estate.

After depositing the car in a downtown lot, we debated between visiting the aquarium and eating again. Guess which won. Another great thing about traveling in the age of iPhones is that it’s so much easier to stray from the original plan and find fabulous alternatives. Walking through Little Italy, in response to group desire to drink coffee, a quick Google/Zagat search turned up an amazing Italian bakery two blocks away, Piedigrotta, which lays claim to the invention of tirimisu. Now, you know how I feel about cream-based desserts, but this cannoli made me a believer.

We continued our stroll along the waterfront towards Fells Point, which is filled with cute cobblestone streets, bars, and restaurants. We secured a waterfront table at a wine bar (more wine, always wine). Two members of our party are serious fans of Roy’s, the upscale Hawaiian chain whose only East Coast outlet is in Baltimore’s Harbor East. The much-discussed butter fish did not necessarily meet the group’s overly-lofty expectations, but it was still a very good and festive way to conclude the day.

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Day Trips from DC

I say I love travel of any and all kinds, and that extends not just to exotic adventures. Local travel–day or weekend trips around one’s hometown–can often be planned on the fly, can feel just as excitingly “away from it all,” and often costs little more than a weekend spent at your usual neighborhood haunts.

Especially given my impending departure from the East Coast, I’ve been trying to get in as much “local” travel as possible. For your travel inspiration, I’m posting a roundup of new musings on day or weekend trips I’ve taken from DC: cities, nature, history, beach, and everything in between. I’ll be updating these links as each new post goes live!

Williamsburg (April 13-14, 2013)

Baltimore (April 7, 2013)

Harpers Ferry, WV (April 6, 2013)

Northern Virigina Wine Country (Mar 2-3, 2013)

New York (Mar 13-17, 2013; Nov 2-4, 2012)

Long Island (Jan 26-27, 2013)

Great Falls Park, VA (Sept 29, 2013)

Atlantic City (July 6-8, 2012)

Gettysburg (May 26, 2012)

On moving for the tenth time in five years

Cherry blossoms in DCYep, I just did the math. Ten times since June 2008. Anyway, would you like a Q&A?

So many moves; why would you do this to yourself? Well, you know that I love packing for trips, so maybe I also love moving? Ha ha ha. No, it has just happened.

So what is this move? DC to Redlands! Temporarily.

Wherefore? You see, I always imagined DC might be a temporary place for me, as CA has long been where the heart is. I needed to return to DC after Peace Corps to finish my MA in TESOL at AU, and I waited to return until I had a job in hand. Said job has been a great learning experience (yadda yadda yadda), but I’m more interested and fulfilled by teaching. So, I shall teach!

Wait, but so why are you actually moving? Oh yeah. So, I want to teach, but have realized that I’d rather teach younger students and all students instead of adult English language learners exclusively, which is what my previous graduate studies qualified me to do. If I want to teach in public schools in CA, I need a state teaching credential. So, I applied and was delighted to be admitted to the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), which is a year-long program that ends with a teaching credential (secondary English for me) plus an MA in education.

Oh, so that’s why you’re moving? Yep. The program starts in late June and will conclude in June 2014.

Then what? I’ll be well prepared to teach high school or middle school English. My intent afterwards would be to stay with permanence in a teaching position in the Bay Area.

What in the meantime? I’m leaving DC in two weeks, and will head home for three weeks of relaxation and luncheoning. Then I’m going on a fabulous Eurotrip for three weeks. Then home, then straight up to Stanford and moving into my TBD on-campus residence.

On campus, really? Yeah, it’s best-case scenario in terms of price and convenience compared to surrounding Palo Alto. Munger’s nice, man.

What is this Eurotrip you speak of? I’m glad you asked. Brother Matthew is moving to Geneva so Grandmother Glo, Cousin Molly, and I are going along for the ride. First the whole group will do Paris and Geneva, then Glo and I head on to Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland (read: Alps). Finally, I’m meeting Friend Ashley in Italy for visiting Milan, Bologna, Ravenna, and San Marino. Three weeks total.

How are you feeling? Excited to get back to Stanford, though it should be a fairly different experience than life as an undergrad. I also anticipate working harder and being busier than I’ve been in the last….oh, 4-7 years.

What are you most looking forward to in CA? Tailgates, the weather, being closer to family, hanging with Dvora’s baby, re-upping my Stanford apparel wardrobe, the Tresidder southwest chicken salad, the social dance scene, reconnecting with friends all over the Bay Area.

What will you most miss in DC? DC friends, Capital Bikeshare, being able to walk to tons of bars and restaurants, my dance cardio class (“Dance Trance”), no driving, my couch.

So have you started packing? People keep asking me this. But I’m having a full-service move and they’re doing the packing for me! I do still have some organizing things to do though.

OK I give up–can you walk me through those ten supposed moves? Stanford – Redlands (June ’08), Redlands – Redwood City (Aug ’08), Redwood City – Stanford EPGY (June ’09), Stanford EPGY – DC (Aug ’09), DC – Redlands (May ’10), Redlands – Chengdu (June ’10), Chengdu – Chongqing (Aug ’10), Chongqing – Redlands (Sept ’11), Redlands – DC (April ’12), DC – Redlands (May ’13). Plus, Redlands – Stanford (June ’13).

Can I come visit you at Stanford? Yes please!

Disney World 2013: The Best and the Non-Best

Yesterday we discussed logistics and rationale behind Disney World 2013. Today let’s talk specifics.

Best Meal – Overall: The hardest reservation for me to get (where I was actually successful) was at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian resort, a full-service restaurant where meals are served family style and consist of Brazilian steakhouse-style meat on skewers plus sides. Was it the best piece of steak I’ve ever had? No. But the food was solidly good, the theme was fun, and we got to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.

Best Meal – Theming: Sci Fi Dine In at Disney Hollywood Studios is probably a contender for second-worst food on our trip, but there’s amazing theming involving sitting in cars watching a drive in movie. Even if it is slightly awkward that if there is an odd number of people in your group someone will end up in a row by herself.

Best Snack: Dole Whip near Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom. Pineapple soft serve over pineapple juice; a cult favorite for a reason.

Worst Meal – Food: Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom was not the worst pizza I’ve ever had, by a long shot (thank China for that one), but it wasn’t too inspired. Going here instead of Tusker House BBQ is one of my sole regrets from the trip, if you can call it that. Though, now that I think about it, that meal was definitely still superior to lunch at Mel’s Diner in Universal Studios.

Mmm

Mmm

Best waffles: Mini-Mickey waffles at the food court at our hotel (Pop Century). As a sidenote, although these are the kids’ waffles meant for the under-9 set, I didn’t have an issue ordering a kids meal here or at Be Our Guest. The anonymity of counter service probably helped with that.

Worst waffles: We enjoyed our first-ever trip to a Waffle House on our first night in Orlando, as one was walking distance to our Universal hotel. Pros: so cheap! And, pretty good hash browns. Cons: why was your signature food the lowlight of the meal?

Longest wait: For Be Our Guest, the new restaurant inside the Beast’s castle at the Magic Kingdom. The food was solid and even bordered on fancy (Matthew got the quinoa salad, e.g.) and the theming was delightful (we sat right by the enchanted rose). It took about 30 minutes to go from getting in line to sitting at a table awaiting our order; the majority of our waits for rides and experiences throughout the trip, though, rarely exceeded 10 minutes and often were 5 minutes or less.

Best ride/attraction, by park:

Magic Kingdom: Usually it would be Splash Mountain, but that’s undergoing repairs this winter. The winner might be Haunted Mansion for the time being, therefore. Enchanted Tales with Belle was the only attraction that was wholly new to us on this visit. It was amusing to watch as an adult, but would be fabulous if you had a grade-school age child who got to interact with Belle and help act out her story.

Extremely close to this real-life giraffe on safari

Extremely close to this real-life giraffe on safari

Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest is an extremely well done ride, with beautiful theming in the surrounding area (so says Ro after visiting Everest base camp in 2011). But let’s not forget how fabulous the Kilimanjaro Safari experience is, especially since they got rid of the dumb storyline about poachers. I don’t know how Disney does it, but I think you’d be hard pressed to see this many animals this close up on a real African safari. Many close-up pictures of animals to be had.

Disney Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror is always the classic here. Better than its CA cousin, we can all agree.

EPCOT: Test Track recently underwent a small renovation primarily inspired by its sponsorship transferring from GM to Chevrolet specifically. We actually found that the renovation dis-improved the ride, since the option to “customize” the mechanics of your car didn’t add much (and didn’t work properly either time we rode), and since the black-lit test area had less character than the previously white-washed test site. In terms of technology and thrills, Mission: Space is definitely the best ride at the park, but Spaceship Earth, riding past scenes of human communications progress plus a slow descent where you customize your vision of the future, was perhaps the ride I most enjoyed this time around. Love those Renaissance animatronics.

Universal Studios: The big coaster here, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, is a winner. This park’s attractions were enjoyable in general, but we felt a bit of 3D/simulated motion overload by the end of the day, since the park clocks in with four attractions that are either 3D or motion simulators.

Universal Islands of Adventure: The Incredible Hulk coaster and the newly-redone Spiderman 3-D simulator ride remains excellent, but obviously the big attraction here is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, featuring one new ride and two repurposed rides we’d experienced in different forms in visits in years past. The headliner ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is fun, and the well-themed line takes you through Hogwarts castle and is an attraction in and of itself. However, this ride also wins the award for Most Nauseating. Be forewarned not to get your Butterbeer before riding, as we did.

Biggest surprise compared with Universal Studios Singapore: Remember that I spent a magical Singapore day at Universal Studios last February? Seeing that the FL park had a Mummy ride, I expected the same entertaining high-speed dark ride, but instead got a weirder indoor roller coaster experience with a totally different plotline. And a lot of temperature changes. The one thing both rides shared, however, was a fairly incomprehensible story.

Least surprising compared with Universal Studios Singapore: That BeetleJuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Review (“Moster Rock!” in Singapore) did not feature the hit Chinese ballad, “Wo Ai Ni.”

Least China-flashback inducing moment: The China pavilion at Epcot. Yes, some of the merchandise is pretty similar to what you’d find in a Chinese tourist market, though at a much higher markup, but the China pavilion didn’t actually make me very China nostalgic. The Circlevision movie doesn’t have a lot to do with modern China either, since we’re simply shepherded around the classic sites by a man in Confucian gear. I do think we got a moment of seeing the pre-dam Three Gorges area, though, so that’s charming.

Ro with her winnings

Ro with her winnings

Best place to have a drink: This was our first WDW trip where all members of our party had reached the age of majority. As such, we enjoyed the occasional drink at WDW, which feels novel and amusing. The most memorable was sitting by the pool bar at the Polynesian Resort around sunset. Bonus is the nightly resort marshmallow roasting that happens on the beach nearby and where we were welcomed, despite being adults not actually staying at the hotel.

Best souvenir: This was perhaps our lightest souvenir trip ever, since we bought exactly nothing. Ro, however, won a stuffed animal at a carnival game in Animal Kingdom. His name is Dinosaur after the theming of the area in which he was won.

So, in conclusion: everyone should plan a trip to Disney World.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that it’s one of my life goals to visit every Disney theme park? I’m hoping Disneyland Paris will be next. And the opening of Disneyland Shanghai in 2015 or so is one of the best (only?) inducements for a return trip to China that I can think of.

Disney World Trip 2013: The Why and the What

I think we should start with a definition of terms.

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Ro and me in Animal Kingdom

Disneyland = Disneyland Resort  = Disneyland Park plus Disney California Adventure, with three hotels and a small entertainment district, is in Anaheim, CA. Disney World = Walt Disney World Resort, including four theme parks, 20+ on-site hotels, several entertainment areas, two water parks, etc., in Orlando, FL. Orlando/Central Florida is also home to Universal Resort (Universal Islands of Adventure plus Universal Studios parks), Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc.

Since I’m from California, a 70-minute drive from Disneyland, I understand why some were confused when I said I was planning a trip to Disney World. You see, Disneyland is a daytrip destination, and one I’ve been visiting since early childhood (I estimate I’ve made 30+ day-long trips, plus many shorter trips during the one year I had an annual pass). But Disney World is a vacation destination. And one I’ve been blessed to visit (as a sentient, non-infant being) five times now.

Think about the logistics of choosing a Disney vacation. Disneyland has two parks, and unless you’re a die-hard fan (and there are plenty of those), you’re going to be content with 2-3 days at Disneyland itself. Fortunately, the rest of Southern California has plenty of other appealing sites (other theme parks, city, beach, etc.), and it’d be easy for any traveler to plan a Disney-cum-SoCal vacation of any length. Orlando, on the other hand, doesn’t have much besides Disney and the other theme park destinations. After all, the area was basically a swamp when Walt and Co. bought up the land (secretly, via several dummy corporations) explicitly in order to birth a self-sustaining vacation destination. There’s lots more to do at WDW, and rightfully so—why else would you plan a trip to Orlando? And if you are planning a trip to Orlando, there’d better be enough theme parking to keep you occupied throughout your trip. So for my family, too, WDW is a special and all-inclusive vacation destination.

Much like I’ve sometimes been a defender of cruises, so too have I sometimes felt like a Disney defender in explaining to friends (let’s be real: non-friends) that my adult sibling, mother, and I were planning a trip. But after all, there are different ways to travel, and Today I Am Staying In This No-Electricity Sumatra Bungalow vs. Today I Am Lining Up for the Tomomorrowland Rope Drop Mini-Marathon are both things I enjoy.

Moving on. For me, planning the trip is often almost as fun as the trip itself, and Disney is no different. I’ve mentioned before the proud moment of my first trip Disney World, just before I turned 11, when I read our Disney guide book cover to cover and handwrote a ride-by-ride schedule. In the twenty-first century, planning is both easier and more potentially neurotic. Minute-by-minute itineraries can be programmed with software from touringplans.com, and can be adjusted in real time. Today, significantly more people also make advance dining reservations than they did 10 years ago, meaning it’s even more important to plan meal times and secure reservations months in advance (during busy periods).

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Hogwarts at Islands of Adventure

My recent WDW trip came about surprisingly—one day my mother and I were talking about how nice it would be to visit the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios, the next decided to take it seriously as a trip concept, and within a week we had booked hotels. And at least two dining reservations.

We spent five full days in Orlando. Reasoning: we wanted to see our three preferred Disney parks (yes to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom; no to Disney Hollywood Studios), Universal Islands of Adventure (home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), and one other thing to make the trip slightly longer. We chose Universal Studios because we’d never been.

We ended up visiting six parks: even more success than I’d hoped! We didn’t buy our tickets for the theme parks in advance, which I feared might have been a mistake since we probably could have saved on tax had we done this. However, if we had bought our tickets in advance we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to realize, at noon on our Islands of Adventure day, that low crowds plus efficient touring meant we had virtually finished with the park, and had time to head to Disney early, buy a 4-day park ticket instead of a 3-day for a minimal upcharge, and hit the fourth Disney park (Disney Hollywood Studios) after all! This strategy turned out to be very successful.

Tomorrow I’ll elaborate further on the bests and worsts of our trip; stay tuned.

2013 Musings

Oh hey, remember this blog? Various reasons are accountable for my decline in posting. Most obviously, I do not live in China anymore and do not travel so much anymore and therefore do not have as much to say anymore. But sometimes interesting things do happen! So, since I have oodles of time (what with being one of a very few people remaining in DC this Christmas week, alone, in the rain snow), let me give you a brief update on my doings. Also, I’m going to try to use this time-oodle to finally get around to writing a travel post about my August trip to Israel–look for that next! First, though, let’s reflect on 2012 and 2013.

On geography. I’m coming up on my nine month-mark in DC–it’s been a good time, and I definitely love lots of aspects of living in this city. But just like I felt torn between DC and CA when I was applying for jobs last year, so too do I now feel pulled westward by people/things/my Calornian identity. Also slightly ridiculous: in nine months, I will have made five trips to CA. Expect to see more of me in 2013, you golden state, you.

See, lipstick

See, lipstick

On resolutions. In 2012, my major resolution was to wear more jewelry. I am happy to report great success at this resolution. I’ve also done better at 2010 and 2011 resolutions to wear more lipstick and heels. Not yet picked a resolution for 2013: any suggestions? Behavior-based personal “improvement” resolutions are clearly favored.

On friendships. In addition to my success at my official 2012 resolution, one other thing I’m most proud about in 2012 is how I’ve kept up or rekindled various friendships. When you do something like the Peace Corps, it’s easy to become close with people preternaturally quickly, as if you’re all in a war zone together, but it’s not easy to imagine what will happen to those relationships after returning to the “real world.” Delightfully, though, many of my Peace Corps friendships have transferred easily to America. Being able to visit with friends here and do normal things like shopping and eating non-Chinese food for the first time in the history of a friendship has sometimes felt slightly surreal, but is excellent.

In addition, it’s been lovely to reconnect with CA friends through various visits and special events, as well as my DC friends. It was somewhat strange when I first arrived in DC, feeling that so much time had passed and so much change had happened from when I lived in DC two years prior, but finding that life  in DC has been continuing unobstructed for others. But falling back into normal life and resuming relationships in DC was smooth. By mid-2013, it’s likely that virtually 100% of my closest DC friends will have left DC (mostly for grad school), though, so interesting changes ahead.

On travels. 2012 kicked off with a sprawling, shoestring trip to Southeast Asia. 2013 kicks off with the most opposite kind of vacation imaginable: Walt Disney World! That’s right: Marissa, Matthew, and Roberta are headed to Orlando after 5 years absence, ready to take in both Universal parks and three of the parks of WDW.

This trip was planned rather quickly, but fortunately I still have enjoyed plenty of time to make my dining reservations and my minute-by-minute ride schedules. This time around I’m assisted not only by the bible of guidebooks (The Unofficial Guide to Disney World, whose praises I sang in the Stanford Daily the last time I visited the World), but also by a wait time mapping technology heretofore unavailable on previous trips. This means that our plans for each day at the park are not just ride-by-ride itineraries  but are now minute by minute! (Actual sample: 9:56am, arrive at Space Mountain. Wait 3 mins, ride duration 3 mins. Walk 5 mins to Swiss Family Treehouse, arriving 10:07 am. Wait 0 mins, attraction duration 13 mins. Walk 1 min to Jungle cruise….) Remember that at age not-quite-11 I hand-wrote a multi-page ride-by-ride schedule for my family’s first trip to Disney World; Pre-Teen Marissa would be pleased to see how my interests endure and how technology assists.

Also, after spending a fair amount of time last week fooling around with my plans for Epcot, two nights in a row I had horrible nightmares involving finding myself at Epcot at 11am with no idea where I was, what I’d been doing all morning, or what I was supposed to be doing next. Shudder.

In any case, I’m not sure what other travels 2013 will bring, but I suppose that’s part of the fun. Up first, pre-WDW: I’ll be ringing in 2013 in Chicago with Peace Corps friends! I’ll report back.

 

Washington DC Edition

June 15, 2008

Long ago someone described an analogy that stuck with me, about how much the first four years post-college–the first four years of “life”–mimic progress through an education. Freshman year of “life,” 2008-2009 when I was living in Redwood City, I was figuring out where I was and who I should be becoming, halfway between homesickness for the halcyon school days and feeling like a bona fide adult. Sophomore year, 09-10, saw me getting out of my comfort zone and exploring new territory, having moved to DC. Junior year I “studied abroad” in China. Senior year featured some soul searching (leaving China, beginning the job search) and finally becoming fully and gainfully employed and adultier.

Next month will mark the four year anniversary of my graduation from Stanford. I never would have envisioned that these four years would have looked like this, but it’s certainly been an amusing ride.

Back to the present. I had originally interviewed at Booz Allen Hamilton in October of last year and had been tentatively offered a job shortly thereafter, but not to start until April. In January off I went to Southeast Asia and in February, to that action-packed Caribbean cruise. Within a week of returning I got the phone call I’d been waiting for, with a firm start date from Booz Allen three weeks hence.

So, next up was a whirlwind of packing and shopping (BAH offered a relocation package that took care of all the costs of moving my large quantities of Stuff) and quick goodbye-west-coast trips to AZ and SF. Ro joined me for the trip to DC, and we arrived Apr. 5, preceding my moving truck by a couple of days. The biggest delight of the day was the couch that had been purchased in CA and stubbornly refused to fit through the apartment door. Hey, did you know you can hire people to come to your house, take your furniture apart, and then reassemble it inside?

See the size of that couch? See the size of that hallway?

At Booz Allen, I am a consultant in the Strategy and Organization Capability, Organizational Efficiency and Effectiveness Center of Excellence. Yes, it’s possible to say that in one breath but just barely. What this means practically is that I’m on a project helping the Department of Navy work towards audit readiness by compiling and centralizing information about financial procedures. As far as consulting gigs go, this one has some advantages–I’m on a small, manageable team of 6, it’s a contract expected to last as long as two years, and I’ll have a legit permanentish office, as opposed to sitting at a client site or sitting in temporary office space. One downside is that that office is in Crystal City–this is a commute that involves about 16 mins of walking, 15 mins of metro-riding, and 2-10 minutes of wait time, so not bad (but not as ideal as it would have been to sit in the Booz Allen DC office by my house). My project is still in the ramping-up stages and there are some kinks to iron out (still waiting for that permanent office to be assigned), but all in all this is going to be a good opportunity to do real work and learn a ton.

Meanwhile, things on the “life” side of the Work-Life Balance are swimming along nicely. Somehow I’ve already managed to consolidate/acquire more friends in this go-around than I did in the 09-10 year, so it’s been a busy few weeks and I’m not complaining. Except about how I’m not getting an ideal amount of sleep. It’s a great time to be in DC–good weather (mostly), people excited about summer’s arrival, and lots of new people to meet.

I’m also really happy with my living situation–I’m in a decent-sized studio in a big building on Scott Circle, within a 10-minute walk of three metro lines, the White House, Whole Foods, and tons of restaurants and bars, and in a 25-minute walk I can be in almost every major entertainment district in DC or, like, the Smithsonian. For all my frequent Smithsonian trips.

It’s kind of strange to be able to look forward and not see any major changes on the horizon. This is pretty much the first time since high school that I haven’t known a move was eventually coming, and that I’ve had an occupation that can really go on indefinitely. But meanwhile, I’ve got some exciting plans to look forward to. Matthew and I are doing Birthright Israel in August. I expect to be in CA for weddings etc in August and October. There are a couple of delightful friends planning visits to DC in July. And hopefully along the way there’ll be more local adventures like beach trips.

So, sum total, life is pretty good. It would have surprised me, at college graduation or even at leaving China last year, to know what was going to happen down the road but I guess that’s life. Come visit me in DC and see for yourself!