Goodbye SF, Hello Texas, and Reflections of COVID-19

I moved to San Francisco in 2008, shortly after my 23rd birthday. I only visited once and decided then and there I was moving, and three months later I arrived. I had only intended on living in the Bay for 2 years. I assumed I would have my fun (with a time limit) and then come back to Austin. Boy, was I way wrong!

In California I really came into my own. The longer time went on, the more extroverted I became. The more I found myself confident in my opinions, speaking up when I could. My style was OFF THE HOOK (I take pride in this!!). I made the best friends! Ones I know that I will be in touch with forever. I developed amazing skills and tried new hobbies – hello DJ world, improv performing community, hiking and watercolor times! I fell in LOVE. I found myself. So why decide to leave?

Truth by told, as much as I love San Francisco and cherished my time in the Bay, I had been feeling for a few years that I was ready for a new adventure somewhere else. John and I had been talking about trying something new together for a while and couldn’t ever really decide. When I started working in marketing for the Curran theater, I knew that I would be tied to SF as long as I had this job. I grew my skill-set so much! I planned so many amazing parties, red carpet events, after parties and beyond. I was an avid part of the VIBE of the city. (I want to address my career separately, so am only touching on it here). But when COVID first came around I lost my job pretty immediately, and all of entertainment went cold, I felt the time came to make a big change.

I know I am a super intuitive person. I was the first person in our group of family and friends that realized, very early on, how big of a deal COVID would be. I envisioned losing my job immediately, industries shutting down, flocks of people moving out of cities – things closing for months on end. Despite feeling this way, I persevered. Everyone was let go, letting go of more people, and places were on hiring freezes. Businesses were closing left and right. It felt hopeless. I tried everything I could everyday to get a new job. I brushed up on my skills and got 3 additional marketing certifications. I didn’t feel confident that the job market had my back in SF, with remote work blooming everywhere and everything described above. John’s work was always remote, so we decided it was time. From a career perspective, Austin felt right because I knew companies would be moving work with all of the tax breaks and cheaper cost of living, so all of the opportunities I once had in SF were now relocated as well.

I ended up going back to work for a previous employer, remotely, and an old amazing (and very chill) boss who confirmed I could move anywhere I wanted. This was so exciting because I knew what I was getting into when all of the rest of the world felt scary. I was going to have a reliable source of income with great work-life balance, and could live anywhere I wanted…

You see, John wants to go to grad school….in Edinburgh! He likes the program at the university and has connections through his work. It would be a 1 year plan and we intend to go in a year from now, when vaccines are administered to everyone and travel is opened up. So in the meantime, we decided, it was the time to be closer to my family. Hence, preparations for Texas were en route.

The weekend we decided to move we were in Carmel.
My California man, taking a risk to become a Texan temporarily and live in a *gasp* RED STATE!

Telling our family and friends was the hardest part, but for the most part everyone was pretty supportive and excited for us. Austin is a really rad town, it was where I went to college 15 years ago and the first city I fell in love with. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I spent the last 12 years building myself up to be this person, a West Coast performer who loves nature and the great outdoors – how could this person exist in Texas? Where it’s HOT and the views don’t always align with my own?

I grieved. A LOT. I cried. EVEN MORE. But after everything is said and done, I knew deep down this was what we were supposed to do. My parents are in their 70s and I’ve been gone a long time. If anything, COVID has taught us that we are not promised tomorrow. So make memories while you can, NOW.

Our socially distant, Alamo Square park goodbye shindig.

I loved my apartment on Alamo Square so much. I lived there for 10 years, and the park was on my front doorstep! It did me well, and later on, John moved in and it did him well too šŸ™‚ . I am forever grateful for the memories we created with our friends and families who visited us and spent time in our home. The backyard BBQs, charades, dance parties to records in the living room, Tuesday Night Dinner club, and more! While I knew I could stay there as long as I wanted, I was ready to grow and that entailed being uncomfortable.

We packed our belongings, sent them off to Texas, and said our final goodbyes with tears in our eyes. It was very painful leaving, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I feel so connected to California. We want to move back and settle down when we are ready to do so – but we have more adventures ahead (in Texas and Edinburgh and maybe somewhere else along the way).

The last sunset in our neighborhood we experienced, before moving the next morning.

We drove across country with Beatrix in tow and stopped at some unique places along the way (I’ll write about that as a separate post). After navigating Las Vegas, Moab Utah, Denver Colorado, Amarillo and New Mexico, we eventually made our way to our new home in Austin. We have been here a few short months and it finally feels like we’ve settled into our new surroundings. And merging old Texas Emily with current California Emily is a lot easier than I thought. I am the best version of me yet! I am so excited for what is in store this coming year – I feel very grounded and have had lots of time to reflect and plan goals.

In our new home in Austin.

Throughout everything, John and I are lucky and happy to have each other in this crazy time. We both have steady remote jobs that allow us the flexibility to explore our surroundings. We have our cute cat who snuggles us everyday. We have close friends down the street, who also moved from SF just 6 months prior to us! My family is only a 2 hour drive away. And we frequently zoom and facetime with his family and our friends back home. Who knows where our future will take us, but for now – we are taking it one step at a time.

Happy 2021, may it bring you health, wealth, and happiness!

Greetings From Seattle

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Back in August I made a trip to Seattle for a work conference and stayed just under a week. While I briefly went to Seattle TEN YEARS AGO for an Alaskan family cruise (celebrating my parents 40th anniversary) I barely remembered anything about the city and was pretty pumped that I was going back. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the city!

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The vibe actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco, but with some Austin/Portland vibes mixed in as well. The downtown area is bigger than SF and perhaps just as busy and with the same problems around homelessness (it’s gotten pretty bad over the last several years on the west coast). But the weather was to die for! It felt so much like home (Texas) but without the triple digit temps. #icantdealĀ Walking around at night in a sundress without needing a sweater or jacket was EVERYTHING.

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I stayed at a pretty basic Hilton hotel a few blocks away from the conference center, which wasn’t too far at all from the Public Market. I went there multiple times to people watch, window shop, and ate THEE MOST delish piroshsky on earth.

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Some coworkers and I also hit up The Nest for a bougie industry happy hour and the views did NOT disappoint! WOW! Seattle gets a lot of rain in general, but it was just beautiful in the summer, I was thankful I had a pretty clear stay.

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A REALLY fun thing to do is visit the Museum of Pop Culture.Ā I had no idea that a concept museum like this existed and was super excited that we chose to do this as a team building activity. There were some badass exhibits, including one about David Bowie, Jim Henson & THE MUPPETS, a sci-fi wing (complete with the actual costumes from Battlestar Gallactica, The 5th Element, Terminator and more!!) a fantasy wing (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc), a GAMING exhibit (WHAT?!) and of course a whole rock-n-roll hall (with some Kurt Cobain memorabilia). It was AMAZING! I want more! Def don’t pass this up if you plan on going to Seattle, it was my #1 favorite thing I got to do!

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I loved Kermit when I was a kid. I obsessed over his relationship with Miss Piggy so hard.

Next to the pop culture museum is the Chihuly Gardens & Glass exhibit. I was SO EXCITED to check this out in the real life and it was one of the most incredible art exhibits I’ve ever seen. Just wow.

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PS) Look how cute my team is on top of the Space Needle!

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We threw a big party in the Seattle Aquarium the last night of the conference, which was the last touristy thing I did during my stay. I know work is work, but the gaming conferences in our industry can throw some pretty cool events! That said, the Seattle Aquarium doesn’t even hold a candle to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’m a bit spoiled since John’s family is from Monterey, so we visit the aquarium occasionally. But it was still a great party and a cool event space!

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The best places I ate and drank:

LolaĀ  – great Mediterranean spot for sharing plates family style.

Shorty’s – arcade themed dive bar in Belltown, full of weird clown references and pinball tables. Great vibe.

Assaggio Restaurant – old world rustic Italian goodness!!

Sweet Iron – I had savory breakfast waffles that were to die for. Prosciutto, scallion, and creme fraiche on a cinnamon toasted waffle. WHAT?!

Anchovies & Olives – had a fantastic solo happy hour, complete with a glass of rose, a few oysters, a side of greens, and an appetizer sized pasta plate ALL for $37. WUT?

Unicorn Bar – this place is famous! Super quirky, bright decor, strange and fun drinks. They even have their own unicorn beer, complete with a horn draft tap. I liked it so much that I bought a t-shirt.

The Whale Wins – rustic farm to table food of the Pacific Northwest. We had our team dinner there before our party and thoroughly enjoyed everything.

Outlier – great spot downtown for clients. Fresh food, fun ambiance, tons of space with a fun cocktail menu. And it wasn’t very pricey. All around great spot!

Umi Sake House – best salmon sashimi I’ve ever had in MY LIFE.

The Runaway Bar – this bar was my place. I found it while vintage shopping at Rove and fell in love. I went in for a drink and stayed for two. If I lived in Seattle, this area would be my neighborhood and I would frequent this bar. Also Rove – had the BEST unique card selection. I bought my sister a card with a painting of Robert Smith (lead singer of The Cure) with the words “I will always love you” across the front. I laughed so hard, I knew she would be the only person who would appreciate it, so I got it for her as a pseudo birthday card. Ha ha ha.

The one place I didn’t get to check out, but NEED TO next time:

Il Corvo Pasta – My boss suggested this because I love pasta so much. They are only open during lunch and don’t take reservations. I walked over to check it out but the line was out the door to wait, so I didn’t have time to eat there. But man o man this place has raving reviews on Yelp and I am bummed I didn’t get to make my Seattle pasta dreams come true.

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I had a great time and would happily return to explore more of the outer areas and hike. Until next time, Seattle!

xo

Emily

A Hidden Gem Within The Santa Cruz Mountains

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A few weeks ago John and I made our way down to Loch Lomand, a hidden recreation center located in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains. I had been before with a friend in the past but wanted to show him how cool I thought the area was and knew he would love it. Turns out, I was right! #duh

I navigated him about an hour and a half south of the city, and many twists and turns later, we found ourselves in a hidden mountain neighborhood area loaded with a lot of “keep out!” signs. He was convinced we were not in the right place, and I kept reassuring him by saying “Patience, young grasshopper.”

Once we found the entrance and paid the $6 fee, we made our way to the glorious nature escape we were hunting for. This lake is SO GORGEOUS! You can rent paddle boats, go fishing, and picnic along the water to get some glorious sun. #vitamindplease

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We must have picked a crazy busy day to explore because there were children EVERYWHERE waiting for a paddle boat.Ā  While it was cute, being around a bunch of screaming kids wasn’t exactly the nature get away we were looking for, so we opted for a hike around the water and up into the mountains.

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My goal was to take John to the top for the vista point, but there was just too much poison oak that it deterred us from going up higher. I mean, it COVERED the entire trail, even several feet out from the sides. This picture was about as high up that we got, but it was still really fun and cute, and all in all we hiked 3 miles.

Once we left Loch Lomand we headed to the Cremer House for a delicious bite accompanied by a tremendous beer selection. This place is SO FRICKING GOOD. I loved every part of it and I would gladly go again. Then we proceeded to do some vintage store thrifting, which is like John’s favorite thing on the planet. See I like the more curated vintage shops, the kinds that have everything organized by color and it’s clean and cute and doesn’t smell like mothballs. John will straight up dig through boxes of “goods” that people leave put out on the street. And sometimes he finds something good. Most of the time he tends to find things like a casserole book from the 70’s. It’s hit or miss. BUT Felton does have a good amount of random mountain town thrift stores, if that’s your thing!

I’m bummed we didn’t get to the top of the mountain, as I did per my previous trip (pic below) but I am glad we had a good time and got to explore! California is full of so many great day-cations and I want to explore them all.

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Until next time!

Watercolor Delight

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When I was a little girl I was VERY very shy. People freaked me out (let’s be honest, they STILL do) and I didn’t talk much. In order to become more social, my dad forced me to take a LOT of community classes (drama and art) and play on various sports teams. I loved the sketching and painting classes and always wish that I continued on with art (and theatre too tbh), but when band came into my life there was little room for anything else.

Now that I am older and exploring my creative outlets, I recently fell back into painting. I took some watercolor classes last fall with the City College Continuing Education program, and I rekindled a love that I hadn’t thought about in a while. It came back to me pretty easily and is *kinda* like riding a bike. I’ve also been working on my hand lettering too; it’s really fun to learn!

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Seinfeld forever.

 

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Whale you?

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If you want to get that boy’s SOUL.

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NOM NOM.

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Consider me Miles Davis.

I want to continue to work on my style and eventually create and sell prints. I love how painting brings out my creativity that I otherwise don’t get to utilize in my day to day job (as it is definitely more math and data oriented). Hopefully I will have more updates around this soon! #demilsart

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