Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunshine Sunday

Sunday, I woke up and proclaimed that it was the best day of my life.  Why?  Because it was sunny and warm at 8AM!  In June!  I even got a sunburn!  June in San Francisco is usually a fog-a-thon (although I've heard there were a few days of relief in there this year), but yet, every year it still has the same ability to shock and surprise, leaving me with dashed hopes of warmth, and with no recourse but to repetitively and bitterly bemoan the "uncalled for" and stubborn June chill.  So when I woke up on Sunday to skies clear of June Gloom, and temperatures verging on bathing-suit weather, it was all I could do to keep myself from proclaiming my love for the world out my window and then running door to door giving out free hugs.

So I compromised and took my Bar books on a nice little picnic in the park.

This view might just beat out the Ocean Park library (maybe just a little).

{If one must study on a Sunday, it at least can be done like this.}

Brian came, too, and although he tried as usual to avoid the prying lens of my camera, I managed to snap just one.  (That's a GMAT book in case you were wondering -- we are the nerdiest.)

And then, as if my day could get any better, my friend Brittany (we all know her by now, right?) came and picked me up at the park and we went to the Omelette Parlour for brunch.

I had avoided this place because it's decor is just worrisome.  I mean, why are there like 40 American flags in there, and not just on the Fourth of July?  And the wood tables just make me think of jam hands.  And Denny's.  Neither one of which makes me want to eat. 

BUT.  There is a back patio!  Hurrah!  My favorite restaurant accessory!  And so we sat outside, and I was thoroughly delighted by my gigantic breakfast burrito with bacon and avocado and jack cheese.  They didn't skimp on the avo either (new abbrev?).  It's my new fave walkable breakfast place.
{weird interior decor}

And that's not all, folks.  There was a street fair!!!  OK, it was not as exciting as the Union Street Fair, or the North Beach Street Fair (in fact, they didn't even close down the street or anything), but there were some festive touches, like balloons and paper lanterns.  Next time, SM, let's try to get some street food in the mix, OK?

And then I took a quick walk to the beach, just long enough to make my heart turn green with envy as I watched all the normal people frolicking on the warm sand, and to snap a few pictures.

And then it was Monday.  I miss you, already, Brit!

Monday, June 27, 2011

"I'd Rather Die Than Exercise"

{hello lady bug on my sneaker}

I have a confession to make.  I've been running lately.  It's not anything serious; but it is running.  Please don't de-friend me.

If you don't know me, you might not understand why this is a confession at all.  So let me start by saying that one of my friends (Caroline, of "friendship wreath" fame) recently sent me this WSJ article in which Danielle Steele was interviewed, with the introductory note "Ashley, I think you would approve of Ms. Steele's attitude towards gyms."  The attitude referred to can be summed up by this little quip from Ms. Steele, herself:

"The French don't really exercise and I'm originally French. I used to ride horses and ice skate as a child, but I would rather die than exercise today. I smoke, I drink and while I have a trainer, I avoid her by all means necessary. People in California always want to know about your workout program; I don't really know what to tell them."  (Emphasis added, obvi.)

Turns out, Caroline was right about me, as good friends always are.  And turns out Ms. Steele and I share more than just a common disdain for the American institution of the gym; we were also both ice skaters.  Yes, it's true.  Once upon a time, I was a figure skater (oh, just for 11 or 12 years or so).  During that time, my fellow skaters and I spent about 6 hours per day in some sort of intense fitness training.  Usually around 3 hours of skating practice per day, and then 2-3 hours in either strength training with high school football players (I wish I were kidding), or in a ballet class in which our miniature yet incredibly intimidating teacher would contort our bodies into unthinkable positions usually resulting in one or both feet positioned and pointed somewhere above our heads (and from which I may have developed workout-PTSD).

We also had to run.  A lot.  On treadmills.  Burning throats, heaving ribcages, and the generally degrading awareness of being forced to run in place.  Inside.  On a machine.  But yet, here I am giving running another shot.  I'm still adverse to the gym, mind you, as this running occurs only outside, where there is at least a possibility that I could catch a tan, or a nice view.  But I am running, and I kind of sometimes maybe a little like it.

So to what do I owe this sudden change of heart?  Let's start with the wrong answers.  First: I promise you that I am not running out of some mindless acceptance of the commonly repeated adage that "you should run a marathon once in your life, just to say you did it."  Doesn't anyone know where the name "marathon" came from?  It's not exactly a winning endorsement.  I just will never understand how the marathon has become such an accepted element of popular culture.

Second: I also promise you that I am not chasing a vain and unrealistic dream of attaining the "perfectly toned" body.  No my dears, a toned body has never been, and will never be enough motivation to make me endure the awful reality of running.  But you know what is?  A toned brain.  (Please note that the dorkiness gets worse from this point on.)

Brian (which is only one letter switcheroo from being "brain" -- totally irrelevant) has been reading (listening on tape to) this book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John T. Ratey, in which John, or shall I say, Dr. Ratey, rattles on about the non-aesthetic benefits to exercise, and especially cardio.  Seeing as though he is a real life psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and all, I'm inclined to believe him.  Now, don't quote me on this because it's all coming second-hand from Brian (and don't quote him on it either because that's a lot of pressure), but the book points to all sorts of studies that show that exercise increases neuroplasticity (the quality in brain cells that allows you to LEARN), stimulates your hippocampus (the thing in your brain that allows you to REMEMBER what you learn), and helps you both eliminate the STRESS you are already dealing with (by allowing your body to release the fight-or-flight chemicals that build up) and be able to better cope with future stress (by inducing low levels of stress so that your brain builds up a sort of immunity).  Well now, those words sound a little familiar.  Yes, in fact, learning, remembering, and stress might just be the three keywords to sum up the life of a law school graduate studying for the Bar exam.  So he got me, this Doctor.

How did he know that in my Bar-Brain-induced desperation to memorize endless stacks of flashcards and Roman numeral-ed outlines, I will do almost anything that brings with it a promise of increased brain power?  I don't know how, but he got me, that sneaky Doctor.

So now, I run.  I run because I need to pass the Bar exam, and I need to be a lawyer, and because I'm realizing now more than ever that my currency in life is my brain juice (thank you, Manrepeller, bringing that term into my vocabulary).  Yes, it's quite clear to me that in the marriage of my mind and body, my mind is definitely the bread winner, and for that, if for nothing else, I need it.  And as the days get closer to when I will actually have to put my thinking to the real world test, where all I will have to count on when I'm suddenly accountable for representing other people's interests is my brain juice, I am more and more terrified aware of the importance of the mind-body connection, and more and more willing to do anything, even run, to make that connection stronger.  Except maybe drink those gross green shots of who-knows-what at healthy smoothie places.  So instead, I've been running lately.

Friday, June 24, 2011


{Lipstick.  On Lisa.}

Guess who I get to meet this weekend...Guess!  GRANT HILL.  What, you don't know who that is?  C'mon guys.  He's only the most famous among Duke fans basketball player of all time.  Also apparently a movie producer?  Generally, a baller (get it?), and I think we get to screen his movie, too.

And guess where I get to meet him...the W Hollywood.  Ooooh la la I'm ironing my fancy pants as we speak.  Thank you, Duke Club of SoCal, for stepping it up.

Oh, and if you weren't already jelly, tonight I've got a hot date with my BarBri books.  I might even get a few minutes with my flashcards.  Man, my life is great.

Any plans you want to share, my loves?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One for Wednesday

because I like it.

Another Wednesday.

Lobby Hero at the Skirball Center

Last Thursday I went with Brian to see Lobby Hero at the Skirball Center.  Skirball.  Say it.  Really, say it.  Isn't it funny?  Anyway, Lobby Hero was supposed to be a play, or so we thought.  It was originally a play on Broadway.  But when we got to the theater room, there was just a stage and three microphones...and then we discovered that we had actually purchased tickets to a recording of Lobby Hero, where the actors would read the lines for a later broadcast over the radio...because people still listen to the radio?  It was unclear.  We exchanged nervous glances, we gauged the other's interest/confusion, and we made an exit plan just in case things got weird.

But turns out, it was actually kind of cool.  The story line involved a murder investigation, a cop-partner romance, infidelity, and somehow humor got worked in there, too.  Once I push the 4th Amendment questions out of my head (I refuse to let BarBrain take over my life), I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the show.  I think the best part was being able to see the actors watching each other deliver their lines -- it was a cool behind-the-scenes-ish feel.  And of course, Brian got a little giddy about seeing Jimmy Cooper Tate Donovan (don't tell him I told you).

{the cafe where we had some vino}

{Yes, I am wearing a long-legged jumpsuit thingy.  No, I don't actually know what you call that.} 

The cafe opens on to a big open patio with a beautiful pond framed by a loggia.  (What do you even call that in English?  Is it still called a loggia?  Or am I speaking Italian-mumbo-jumbo to you?  Anyway, the covered walkway thing with the columns is what I'm talkin bout.)  And there were lilly pads!  Lilly pads always surprise me.  If you think about it, they are somehow part of common knowledge, but it's unclear why -- I mean, they are pretty rare, at least in the places I frequent (but then again, where would I ever go where there would be lilly pads?).  And they are totally one of crazy-naturey elements that totally make you want to watch an episode of Planet Earth or something (just me?).  I mean, how do they float like that, or are they even floating?  How do they spread or pollinate or whatever?  And how do the stems just grow straight up like that?  And then you add the frogs to the picture and there are just too many questions for my mind.

{this pacing, phone-talking man was clearly determined to thwart every one of my photo-capturing attempts}

Once it got dark at intermission, all the frogs starting ribbiting and it was like we were in the Rainforest Cafe the forest somewhere.  Maaaagical!

{you can't see the frogs, but I swear they were in there!}

The Skirball Center is so beautiful; I'm already looking for an excuse to go back!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend Snaps

I'm still recovering from the excitement of yesterday (I'm sure you're over it by now, but cut me some slack), but I do have some pics to share from the weekend.  Not quite as many as I promised, but it just so happens that neither one of us had our model faces on on Sunday.  But.  Luckily, I snapped a few on our night out on Saturday, and on our lazy beach stroll the next day for you to enjoy.

On Saturday night, we were feeling fancy, so we headed to the Huntley Penthouse and hung out with all the fabulous L.A. types.  Yeah, that's how we roll.  JK.  The best people watching ever though.

The Sunday sun was so wonderful.  It was a gift of a day.


{Urth saved our lives on Sunday.  I'm not exaggerating.  PLEASE do yourself a favor and go get a piece of their coconut custard pie.  Like ASAP.} 

An aside:  I've always wished that I could be the type of person who played (and enjoyed) beach volleyball.  It just looks so tempting with it's tanned and toned players, it's lack of helmet or knee pad or cleat requirement, and it's sunny, sandy court.  But then once the first serve flies over that net, oh it's awful.  It's so deceptively awful.  And it just makes me feel inferior.  Is it not enough that I love strolling, and seashell hunting, and laying on the beach?  Do I also have to enjoy painful net sports on its sandy shores in order to truly call myself a beach person?  If so, I forfeit the challenge.  You win, beachy bikini-clad volleyball girls, you win.

Lazy Sundays spent with best friends are the best kind of days.  Especially when there's sand and sun involved.

P.S. Not pictured: dinner at the M Street Kitchen, formerly known as La Grande Orange.  Still a solid choice for a casual dinner, and I love the outside patio and the sangria, but I must say, the ahi and guac appetizer just isn't the same without the tortilla chips.  Bring it back, M Street!  Please?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Places at Once

Welcome back from the weekend!  Did you miss me?  You did?!  Oh good, because today you get a double dose of ME (and we both know that's what you really want to start off your Monday).  Here's your first dose, and for the second, head over to A Practical Wedding, where Meg and her team are featuring that post I wrote last week for our 9-monthiversary!!!!!  Yes, that A Practical Wedding, the one I link to in like, maybe every other post I write, and the one I refer you to whenever I attempt to speak on the subjects of weddings and marriages.  NBD.

JK.  BFD (big effing deal).  I'm just a little excited.

If you popped in here from APW, welcome!  Take a look around and stay as long as you'd like.  Mi casa es su casa.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meet My Dad, Onder

Remember when you all got to meet my mom, Anca?  Well today, in honor of Father's Day, I'd like you to meet my dad, Onder.  He grew up in Turkey, spent his last lira on a plane to San Francisco in his teens, and studied at UC Berkeley in the height of the hippie era.  He earned his Ph.D. in structural engineering without a super-powered TI calculator.  He owned a computer when you had to know coding to make it do anything.  So basically, he's seen a few things in his life.

He also happens to be one of a dying breed of men who doesn't need a how-to blog to guide him through manly trials and tribulations.  The kind who fixes your cheap Target sandals with some twine that he just had in the car, who changes the oil in your car without asking whether you had it checked recently, and who sets up the wireless network in your house without calling the cable people.  In an era where we've (arguably) gone overboard in exalting the DIY (case in point: there were too many possibilities to link to there, so I didn't), he truly lives DIY without even knowing what that acronym stands for.  And most importantly to me, he is my biggest fan, and for that, I owe him lots and lots of thank you's.  So here are just a few reasons why I love my dad, Onder:

He loved me even when I was in that stage where I just looked constantly confused.

He took me skiing when I could barely walk and let me throw snowballs at him with no complaints.

He (1) put up with the ridiculous crowds, smelly people and shrieking children at Disneyland on multiple occasions just for me (sorry Disneyland-ers, I'm a hater), and (2) while there, served as my ride when I was too lazy to walk.

{And he wore those socks.  Also what's up with the fake cop car?  So unclear.}

He rocked the mustache before it was ironic or hipster or whatever.

He complied with all of my forms of girly torture.  He even let me paint his face on occasion.

He took me fishing to places where I actually caught fish (this picture is on a boat), grilled up our catches, and taught me not to be afraid to eat a fish served whole (but you can still have the cheek meat if you want it).

Oh, and we look exactly alike.

{You might think we were related.  Just a little.}

Happy Father's Day Dad!

P.S. Dads are the original hipsters.  You must have seen that by now, but in case you've been hiding under a rock (or a BarBri book), click, scroll, and be enlightened.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


P.S. You can expect a bunch of eye-candy next week because guess who's here in LA?  Brittany (of hermit crab fame)!  She is also a rock star (soon to be famous), gorgeous (and a super smart engineer I'll have you know), and she is perhaps my most willing model.  Plus, I love her more than sunshine.  So you betcha I'll be snapping away all weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why Our Wedding was not Like a Birthday

An Attempt at Wisdom from Nine Months In

{photo by Leonel Medrano and Iris Bai}

This Saturday marks 9 whole months since we got hitched!  Woohoo!  So tonight we're seeing Lobby Hero at the Skirball Center to celebrate.  (OK, so we didn't really buy the tickets with a monthiversary in mind, but I'm calling it an anniversary celebration so whatever.)  I'll tell you how it was next week!

Even though nine months seems so short, I feel like in that time, I have learned more than I ever expected to about myself, and about how to be not just a girlfriend, but a wife.  Most importantly, I've learned the difference.

When I was engaged, and I imagined waking up on the morning after my wedding, I thought it would be just like waking up on the morning of my birthday – everyone mockingly asking “how does it feel?” and me expectedly answering “same as yesterday.”  Not that I didn’t think our wedding would be a totally awesome celebration; I just thought it would be more like a big party than a game changer.  We had been together for five years, and we had just moved in together a month before the wedding, so what could a few promises and a license have on us, right? 

{one month before our wedding; moving in together and painting endlessly to cover the awful yellow walls in our Berkeley apartment}

But it turns out for me, getting married was most definitely not like turning a year older, and being married is definitely not like being not married.

The difference is that now, we have albums.  For five years before we got married, the file folders of jpegs on my laptop did the job of preserving our memories just fine.  But now?  Now that’s not enough.  Now, we have hard-bound, paper-printed, legitimate family albums to fill with our very own family history.

{taken by a very nice stranger, just after we picked up our marriage license at the SF City Hall}

I spent a good amount of time during our engagement thinking about the merger of our two extended families – you know, the usual issues of how we would split up holidays and handle family gatherings.  But my thoughts never extended past my static vision of “family” where I played the role of daughter, granddaughter, niece.  What I failed to wrap my head around was the fact that our wedding would also mark the transformation of my life-date into my closest family member, my emergency contact, and the face connected to mine by a horizontal line on the family tree.

But how do you conceptualize something so hugely transformative?  With pictures, obvi.

{NYE 2011}

I remember a moment from before our wedding when I was looking at old family photos of my parents as newlyweds and me as a child, and somewhere between my first Halloween and my second birthday party, I felt my perspective shift.  I realized that my parents must have consciously collected and preserved these albums with the thought of showing them to me one day, so that I could know my back-story, my history.  And I realized that now it was my and Brian's turn to fill our own album.  It was our turn to grow our own family, to make our own history, and to build a story to pass on when our family expanded.  It was a quiet, heavy realization, like an emotional handing off of responsibility.

{Maui, on our honeymoon}

That's when I realized that the wedding I had dismissed as a formality was actually a big deal.  Huge.  Marrying Brian suddenly meant so much more than I ever thought the label “husband” entailed.  But, after I recovered from my minor panic attack à la Carrie Bradshaw when she breaks into hives in the wedding dress shop, I was excited.  (Only a small part of this excitement was about having an excuse to buy a new photo album, I swear.)  I was excited to wake up the day after our wedding and see what it felt like to be family.

{the picture on our first annual family Christmas card...yep, starting it off right}

Since our wedding, I've bought an album and deemed it with pride to be our first family photo album, and now it's about 1/3 of the way full.  Starting the album project was a bit intimidating, though, because it just felt so ridiculous.  I mean, who actually prints out large numbers of amateur point-and-shoot candids of seemingly unimportant events?  I was sure the photo-printing people at CVS were secretly laughing at me.

{Aruba, January 2011}

But now, nine months into this fam thing, standing at that CVS photo counter feels pretty legitimate, and slipping my freshly printed glossies into the 4x6 plastic album sleeves makes my heart swell.  It's a reminder of what the whole point of this marriage thing is, and it's a confirmation for me that marriage matters, and that our wedding was most definitely not like a birthday.

{taken by our friend, Dana, on a rainy afternoon at the Academy of Sciences in SF}