Sunny San Diego

San Diego is starkly sunny and bright in a high-definition kind of way, offering desert blooms, California history and gorgeous ocean views.

It’s freezing in most of the country right now, so reminiscing about this lazy summer road trip is like taking a virtual vacation (though living in the Bay Area I really can’t complain about the weather…)

After LA, we headed farther south to San Diego. What do I remember from this 2012 visit to San Diego? In the order they popped into my head:

Sunset on Coronado Island, 2012
Exploring Balboa Park, 2012
Strolling through the San Diego Botanical Garden, 2012

On our way back to the Bay Area, we made quick stops in Santa Barbara, where we enjoyed walking around downtown and walking the beach. This short stint was followed by San Luis Obispo, though, to be honest, since these stops were towards the end of our road trip, I mostly remember being a bit tired and ready to tuck in at home (this is evidenced by a lack of pictures taken at these locations. Ha!) One of the silver linings of a trip coming to a close is how much it makes me appreciate my little creature comforts and the reliable rhythm of the daily “grind.”


2012 and southbound on the PCH

As part of my personal retrospective on the past happily married, childless years gallivanting with my partner in travels, I will continue with our second annual trip to Somewhere. This time, I’m throwing it back to 2012.

I just passed my 5-year college reunion (which I did not attend because: morning sickness.), and with that milestone comes memories of the sheer joy of graduating, followed by the daunting prospect of what to do next.

Literally jumping for joy over graduating from Stanford, June 2012.

After our Honeymoon in Spain the previous year, we decided to stay stateside and get to know the state we’d be calling home for the foreseeable future: California. I grew up in Texas and Alabama, and the first time I visited California was after I was accepted to Stanford. During my four years as an undergrad, I only had time to venture on day trips around the Bay Area (which, don’t get me wrong, are fantastic!). That said, I’d never been further south than Santa Cruz.

It was time to take that iconic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and revel in the majesty of the California coastline. So, we went road-tripping.

A bench with a view, Carmel 2012.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is cuteness incarnate — a town thought up by artists and dreamers and those with a fancy for whimsy.

We began our journey in Carmel, which holds a special place in our hearts because that’s where got married.

We stayed at the Colonial Terrace Inn, which is walking distance to everything — the shops downtown and the ocean. The room we stayed in was spacious and the breakfast was yummy.

A lovely dinner for two at Casanova in Carmel, 2012.

We of course had to have (a delicious) dinner at Casanova, where we had our rehearsal dinner. It has a quaint, romantic atmosphere, excellent Italian food and a stellar wine list.

A view from Hearst Castle, 2012.

San Simeon is a small stop where you can go on a meandering ride up hilly acres that leads to an opulent mansion sitting pretty in its splendor.

There’s not much choice of where to stay in San Simeon — it’s an unassuming blip of a town along the coast, and your best bet for lodging is the Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort, which has great views of the ocean.

Hearst Castle in all its splendor, 2012.

The main attraction here is Hearst Castle, which is definitely worth a visit. The ride up the castle is just as enjoyable as the property itself and, though I found Mr. Hearst’s tastes to be a bit over-the-top and gaudy, it’s truly a remarkable place to explore.

Outside of LACMA, L.A., 2012.

L.A. is a place best maneuvered by locals who understand the web of highways and can crack the code to decipher where to go (and not go) and where to find the hidden gems.

Next stop: L.A. It was our first time in L.A., and everything they say about the traffic is true. Go figure. Unfortunately, there was no LaLaLand-esque singing and dancing happening on the freeways.

Though we definitely felt a bit like fish out of water in L.A., we did have some highlights:

  • Nestled in the hills of Pacific Palisades, The Getty Villa is a beautiful homage to Greek and Roman art.
  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) provides a great perspective on L.A.’s cultural heritage — a great place to visit on your first trip to L.A.
  • It’s no longer playing, but we saw “Iris,” a Cirque du Soleil show, at the Dolby Theater, which we really enjoyed.
  • A visit to Griffith Observatory and walk around it to take in the views.
  • Brunch at Bottega Louie. A beautiful, airy space, filled with beautiful L.A. people and a case full of beautiful pastries.
Macarons for daaaaays, Bottega Louie, L.A., 2012.

Our southernmost stop was San Diego, and so from L.A., we continued our southbound road trip…


Barcelona, te quiero

Sagrada Familia
A view of the ceiling in the Sagrada Familia.

2011 and newlyweds in Barcelona, Spain.

Somehow, as a junior at Stanford [Sidebar: yes, I got married young; no, not for any other reason – religion, taxes, papers, pregnancy – other than plain old love; yes, people at Stanford were shocked I was wearing an engagement ring as an undergrad — I received some major side-eye for it; yes, I married someone 6.5 years older than me; yes, it was awkward when he was older than my RAs; no, the age difference doesn’t matter now; yes, I was at the time and still am a feminist; cool, now that that’s out of the way] I managed to plan an (albeit small) wedding and a kickass trip to Spain, all while doing Calculus problem sets, reading a ridiculous amount of books and writing papers. (In hindsight, I see the anxiety that was already rearing it’s ugly head, but that’s a story for another time…)

Continue reading “Barcelona, te quiero”

Parent Prepping + Babymooning

It’s been quite a year-and-(almost)-a-half since my last foray into blogging, but life got busy. Freelance writing turned into a full-time job as an editorial assistant for a local  Bay Area newspaper, and I found myself not wanting to look at a screen in the evenings.

And now I’m entering a new chapter — one that other millennials are starting to embark on — Parenthood. Or, if you’d like to be gender-specific, Motherhood.

Continue reading “Parent Prepping + Babymooning”

My YA fiction fix …

Why, hello there vivacious reader (Viv)! I’ve been thinking about you, wanting to catch up, say hi.

So, why haven’t you then? 

To be honest, I’ve been spending my free time voraciously binge reading books in the young adult science fiction/fantasy genre and have only taken breaks for life’s basic necessities.

Hm. Glad to see I come after YA fiction … Also, aren’t you a little old for YA fiction? Weren’t you an English major? No doubt you read classics like Dickens and Shakespeare. Aren’t the Lunar Chronicles kind of … beneath you? 

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Viv. Let’s clear some things up. You can never be too old for YA fiction. Just because I can appreciate some beautiful figurative language and deep, thought-provoking prose doesn’t mean I can’t also appreciate some popcorn reading. I’ll follow the likes of All the Light We Cannot See and The Goldfinch with Cinder in a heartbeat. You should give it a chance!

[eye roll] All right. As long as it’s on my kindle so no one sees me reading something like The Selection in public. I have a reputation to protect. 

If that’s how you want to play it, that’s fine. The anonymity of kindles is quite convenient.

I’m only asking this because of your unbridled enthusiasm and because, as your friend, I feel obligated. What do you recommend? 

Love your honesty, Viv. Here are the worlds my brain’s been happily inhabiting:

Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series, books 1 & 2: Wizard’s First Rule and Stone of Tears

Classically epic hero’s journey with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and a kick-ass female character which, Viv, I know you’ll appreciate. The romance isn’t overbearing, though the male gaze is kinda obnoxious at times. (It came as no surprise that Terry is a guy). I’ll be honest, at times it just felt like one trial after another with no end in sight – a grueling trek up a mountain, but I was too invested to stop reading – a good sign.

Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn Series: The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger 

You’ll probably enjoy the female protagonist’s feistiness. It’s also just beautiful writing with plenty of lovely imagery. I enjoyed the understated magical element and the inspiration from A Thousand and One Nights. Overall, it’s a nice balance of plot and character development.

Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Stars Above, Fairest

Um, this series sucked me in. It was a pure pleasure to read it. I seriously felt the childlike giddiness I experienced with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. The characters are so three-dimensional. The dialogue is great. The character development across the series is great. It’s just a fun series. And, the retelling aspect is enjoyable without being over-the-top or cliché. I mean, Cinderella is re-imagined as a cyborg mechanic. Brilliant.

Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes

an ember in the ashes

Interesting world-building with a dynamic plot and nuanced portrayals of relationships. It switches back and forth between the two main characters’ perspectives, which adds some depth to the story. I’ll definitely be reading the second book which comes out at the end of this August.

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys

the raven boys

I felt “meh” about this one, though I liked it enough to finish it. I may continue the series at a later point, but I don’t feel compelled to do so. I enjoyed the female protagonist’s atypical quirkiness contrasted with the obnoxious and arrogant “raven boys,” but ultimately I found myself uninterested in their “quest.”

Kiera Cass’s The Selection Series: The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir, The Crown

Of all the books on this list, these felt the most “Young Adult.” By the third book, the protagonist’s indecision about whether or not she loved the main dude was exhausting. Even so, they were quick, entertaining reads that I’d recommend for a lazy day at the beach. It’s kind of like The Bachelor meets Hunger Games (except the stakes aren’t as high as in Hunger Games). The last two, which follows a different character’s perspective aren’t as entertaining as the first three, but the perfectionist in me had to see the series through.

Happy reading, Viv!

Next on my reading list: Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series! What are you reading these days?

initial thoughts…

This “blog” is going to be a space for my thoughts on things I interact with on the daily: from movies I watch, to fascinating conversations I have, to my favorite podcasts and my strong feelings about heirloom beans.

This blog will be a messy scatter plot, perhaps with a general trend toward art, culture, identity, television, food, books, and what it is to be a “twenty-something” “millennial” not working in tech in Silicon Valley. (Exhausting, that’s what it is).

But, Anna, why are you hopping on the blog-band-wagon now? Why didn’t you hop on in like 2006 when blogs were relevant? 

Good question, reader (who I will henceforth refer to as Viv). Since I’m trying to carve a space for myself as a freelance writer, I was advised to create a blog where I would write the kind of articles I would want to pitch to a client…But that seems…restrictive, un-amusing, and potentially redundant.

Instead, I’m going to write in the first person. And editorialize. And, I’m probably going to use the Oxford Comma, even though it’s not in the AP Style book.

[Gasp] Bold moves. 

Oh, Viv. I’m just getting started.

Not to burst your bubble, but do you think anyone will want to, you know, read your blog? 

I have absolutely no idea, but you know what? I like talking to you, Viv. I like talking to you a lot.

Photo taken at “My Hero” art show at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, CA. Awesome slumping superhero artwork by Matt Ritchie.