My Favorite Season

The temperature in DC keeps plummeting, the days keep getting shorter, and we’ve even got a forecast for snow on the horizon. So it’s not surprising (especially given today’s wet, gloomy, sunless weather) that I’m seeing a lot of posts from folks proclaiming their hatred for the winter season.

And hey, I get it! It’s cold, it’s dreary, it’s cold, your skin gets dry, there’s less sunlight, it’s cold… well, you see where I’m going with this. But maybe it’s because I’d rather take being cold every time over being too hot, or maybe it’s because I lived in Canada for several years of my life so the winters here just don’t seem so bad, or maybe it’s because winter is the setting of both beginnings of my love story (Sean and I had our first date and got married in January), but I just really love winter.

I love the feel of crisp, dry winter air hitting my cheeks every time I step outside.

I love curling up under a knit blanket and watching holiday movies–good and bad–with my husband.

I love the scent of apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint, and sugar that float through my house whenever I’m baking. And by “baking”, I mean when I’m lighting candles that smell like all those things, of course.

I love curating my holiday playlists and listening to nothing but Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving on. And the Hamilton Mixtape, duh.

I loooooooove Christmas lights.

I love the tastes of apple cider, eggnog, and peppermint. Predominantly emanating from my Starbucks cup.

I love the excuse to wear my Santa hat nonstop for a month. And I love the fact that when I do, people smile in response more often than they roll their eyes.

 img_1798
And most of all, I love snow. It’s my most Lorelai Gilmore-esque quality. I love the crispness in the air when it’s about to snow. I love how watching it fall from the sky still seems like magic. I love the way it covers up the ugliest parts of winter to make it all seem fresh and new again.

Even when there’s over 30 inches of it… on my wedding day… I still love it. That’s how you know it’s love.

And okay, yes, of course there are lots of not-so-great things about winter, too. People really suck at driving in the snow, and even when you’re kind of good at handling snowy roads, the icy ones can still get ya. The weather can get so dry that the skin on your hands and lips cracks and splits in the most painful way, no matter how much moisturizer you lather on. The winds can be harsh, the ice painful, and I recognize that it’s a privilege and luxury for me to be able to bundle up and hide out in my warm home when the cold is just too much.

But still.

I just love it all.

What’s your favorite thing about winter?

Where to Start?

Wow, you know it’s been a minute since you’ve contributed to your blog when you have to remember the URL to get to the login page because it doesn’t pop up in your browser history’s autocomplete bar. To be honest, I don’t think I even cognitively realized just how long it had really been, you know? I mean, with the loss of my friend, and then my grandmother, blogging just didn’t seem “right” for a while. And then life just kept truckin’ along, and before you know it, here we are! December. Crazy.

So the reality is, I don’t even know where to begin with this post. It doesn’t really feel productive to spend a ton of time covering what’s been going on during last 6 months of my life because A) there’s not really all that much to report, B) if you follow me on social media in some form or another, you probably already know a lot of it, and C) I am too lazy to try to remember it all. But, it would feel weird not at least touching on where I’m at in, like, my life, sooooooo… I’ll try to make it brief.

Work: Yelp stuff is still going awesomely. I’m a little bit past 3.5 years at Yelp, and in July I was promoted to the role of Community Director. I am, it might go without saying, still loving my job, having a great time hosting events, working with local businesses, and championing my community. I also have the best #worksquad a girl could ask for. In August, I threw my 3rd huge Yelper Party event, and also attended CM Week at Yelp’s HQ in San Francisco for the 3rd year.

 

Family: Even though 2016 has been the year of some seriously crappy stuff, it will still be remembered as an amazing year in the grand scheme of my life, since it started off with me gettin’ hitched! Sean and my first year as newlyweds has been wonderful, and we haven’t threatened to divorce each other even once.

 

My nieces are still awesome, and my family and I are just as weirdly close as ever. In early November, my sister, my parents, and I went to New York and my dreams came true because I finally got to see HAMILTON (in short: I cried like six…ty times, it was NOT overhyped despite how much I built it up in my head, it was everything and more):

 

And later in November (lol), the whole fam (minus Sean, who had to work), went to Orlando for a big family vaycay. Which meant I got to return to the Happiest Place on Earth (for Gretchen), Harry Potter World, and also, the Happiest Place on Earth (for Other People), Disneyworld:

 

My trip back to Diagon Alley went really well with my latest tattoo, too:

And, finally, my dogs are still my wonderful, weird, bearded children:

Does that pretty much cover all the bases? I think so, right? Eh, if there’s anything I’m forgetting… I probably will never remember it. But! It should at least bring us up to the present, wherein I am actually trying to get back to updating this thing on the reg. But, for once, I’m not going to make any grand, sweeping declarations like, “I’m returning to my roots!” and “I’m getting back on the blog wagon!” because those will surely backfire and leave me eating my words. Instead, I’ll just be honest and say this:

My life has gotten pretty great. I have a loving husband, a home of my own, furchildren, an awesome family, a job that I am legitimately still obsessed with, and the freedom to continue to dye my hair any color I want with impunity (it even recently got featured in a Buzzfeed listicle, so, y’know, #lifegoalscomplete). I’m also, obviously, extremely humble.

But I must admit, if anything has been missing over the past, I dunno, few months… a year… or two… it’s that I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve basically stopped writing here on this blog, I’ve stopped writing creatively, and I think that I’ve been keeping myself busy enough that I haven’t had to think about it. It’s just so easy to put family, friends, work, holidays, trips, obsessively singing the soundtrack to Moana, binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and playing Final Fantasy XV nonstop for 3 straight days first. But I miss writing, I do, and I want to… stop… missing it. (Hmm, my skills may have already deteriorated.)

So, whether I start posting here regularly again, or whether I find the motivation to finally frickin’ finish the sequel to Terra (I know, I know…), or whether I just find myself coming back to my words a little more often, I’d like to write more. And I’m going to try to do just that.

And with that said, hopefully, you’ll see me back here in these parts very soon. Although, based on recent precedence, if I make it back for another post before… uh… April… I’ll already have outdone myself. I do love setting that bar loooooow. 😉

 

Remembering PoPo

 

This past Wednesday, July 27th, my beautiful grandmother passed away.

PoPo Portrait

My PoPo (the Chinese term for maternal grandmother, and what my siblings and I all called her) was a strong and loving women, who raised a family of eight (8!!) children.

Yep, that’s my mom rocking those sweet (and so on trend!) cat-eyes on the right.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may already know that my grandmother had not been in the greatest health for the past several years, so while nobody can say that her passing was a surprise, she is missed so deeply nonetheless. I’m grateful that my mother and her siblings were all there by her side until the very end.

Our family

jenny's wedding

PoPo leaves behind an amazing legacy in her children and children-in-law, 14 grandchildren (yeah, I have a lot of cousins), and even got to meet her first two great-grandchildren.

I savor memories of summers spent at her home in Virginia Beach, watching her sing Cantonese karaoke in the living room, letting our crazy gaggle of grandkids run amuck, cooking us seriously amazing and authentic Chinese dinners (which, of course, I never truly appreciated when I was young, but would kill for right now.)

She was an incredibly strong woman, and the love she held for us, for her entire family, was evident across age and culture and language. I think I mentioned back when I got married that almost every single member of my family on my mom’s side was there. My aunts and uncles and cousins moved Heaven and Earth to change their flights, jump on buses, and outrun the storm in their cars — and they all made it here in time for my blizzard wedding.

That’s the kind of family my PoPo raised. The kind that is there for each other, natural disaster or nah, because family really is the only thing.

Mom and Dad's Wedding

我爱你, 婆婆. I love you, PoPo.

When Words Fail

I’ve been sitting on a big, long, apologetic post about how terrible it is that yet again I’ve lapsed into a pattern of ignoring my blog, and yet again I’ve failed to hold up the promises I made on here, but, well, all that really just doesn’t feel important anymore.

On Friday evening, I received devastating news. A wonderful friend and colleague of mine passed away, extremely suddenly and unexpectedly. It was cutting news in more ways than one — Colleen was an inspiring and gracious coworker, a generous and thoughtful friend, and just a really, really beautiful person.

Colleen was, without a doubt, the most vivacious person I’ve ever met. She put my own enthusiasm for life to shame. Her million-dollar smile could lift your spirits by a mile. Her hugs were legend. And even if you only saw her in person once or twice a year, it was like no time had passed every time you were reunited. She just always made things that natural, that easy, that wonderful.

She was also one of the most considerate and thoughtful people I’ve ever known. From little notes on social media to handwritten cards in the mail to completely unexpected gifts, love was a language that Colleen spoke fluently. She knew how to make you feel special… even though she was the special one.

I have experienced very little loss over the course of my years, and I fully recognize how lucky that makes me. So I don’t think there is a way I could have been prepared for what I would feel upon reading the news of Colleen’s passing. It was like a tsunami washing over me. Shock, grief, utter disbelief.

I’m an emotional person, you all know this. Crying simply seems to be my body’s default setting — tears come when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry… well, you get the idea. But for all the hours of my life spend crying, I can count on one hand the number of times I have really wept.

For the beautiful life of Colleen, I wept.

Tears fell, thick and heavy. My body heaved with sobs. I was just overtaken with this immense sadness at the loss of my friend, taken so young, so abruptly, so unfairly.

All weekend, I’ve read the words of others on this heartbreaking event. Words expressing heartache, words offering comfort, words celebrating Colleen’s magnificent life. And I’ve struggled to find words of my own that even start to express my own deep sadness. Because every time I tried to pull together something to say, put shape to my feelings, my words seemed to fail.

I questioned if I should even say anything at all. I questioned if it’s even fair for me to feel this loss so deeply. After all, Colleen touched so many people, she was a bright light in so many lives, and while I’m lucky enough to be counted amongst them, there are so many who knew her longer, better. Would it be better to grieve quietly, to let those who knew her best share aloud? Does saying something add to Colleen’s legacy, or… is it just selfish for me to be so affected by this?

I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, really. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s appropriate, I just know what I feel. I feel amazed by the community of people who loved and were loved by Colleen. I feel heartache knowing there won’t be any more legendary hugs or gushing sessions over our pups, that I won’t see her at Yelp’s annual CM Week in August, or during my trip to Orlando in November (something I had just emailed with her about a week or so ago.) I feel scared seeing how unpredictable life is, how it can be cut so short. I feel comforted knowing that Colleen will not fade out of our memories. And I feel inspired to live by her example — to laugh loudly, hug people with purpose, make every moment count, and to love — hard.

Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way, we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from our wallets in our rooms. But! Overall we still had a good time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs. 🙂

I guess the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.) Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!