Does anyone else want to hit the reset button on 2020? But seriously, I would love to go back to a time when pandemic and social distancing weren’t part of my regular vocabulary, when the news I was trying to avoid was only about politics and not death counts and case numbers, when Corona was just a subpar beer you drink with lime. It’s been a rough couple of months for the world, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. I feel kind of guilty to admit this, but I’ve been surprisingly okay: my family and friends are healthy and I’m able to work from home, so staying in has been the biggest change in my daily life. While it’s been frustrating at times to avoid friends, not be able to hike in 70 degree weather, and cancel travel plans I know that I am so damn lucky that those are my biggest problems. Millions of people all over the world are at risk of losing their lives, jobs, and loved ones; I’m grateful that my problems are so minor. My general philosophy is to take things one day at a time, and recently I’ve been finding joy in remembering and journaling everything I was able to do in the beginning of the year. Many of these moments are special because of the people I shared them with, and I’m happy to summarize them here and share some good in the world.
In between two different trips I was able to spend a day and a half in New York. It was the perfect day! I stayed at the Jane Hotel, which was a really cool historic building and the perfect spot for a solo traveler for one night. The weather was chilly but sunny, so I spent most of the day exploring the city. I walked the whole length of the High Line and did some sightseeing outside the Vessel and the Flatiron building. I explored the New York Public Library before spending the afternoon walking through Central Park. The highlight of my day was dinner, when I got to catch up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a year since her wedding. Afterwards I capped the night off with drinks in the West Village and even managed to have a conversation with a few locals. It was honestly the best day, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Bachelorette Party in Philadelphia
I went to a weekend bachelorette celebration in Philadelphia where my good friend, the bride-to-be, has lived since university. It was everything you could want in a bachelorette weekend: margaritas, male dancers, shots, a BDSM burlesque show, 3AM pizza, dancing, tacos, and general debauchery. The best part was just spending time with my friend, who I haven’t seen in a few years. We had booked a really nice Airbnb in Old City, so we had a great space to relax and catch up in between all the events.
Homemade Pizza Night
A group of my friends and I had been trying to plan a homemade pizza night since November, but we kept pushing the date out due to holidays and last-minute schedule changes. We were finally able to get together in early February, and I had a lot of fun. It was great to catch up with friends and the food was delicious! I’m happy that we were finally able to have our pizza night, especially now that I’m not sure when we’ll all be together again.
Poker & Potluck
Another one of my friends hosted a potluck and poker night in February. I am apparently awful at poker, but I broke even which is better than the last time we played! The food was also delicious, and I was pleased that I had an excuse to make a batch of buffalo chicken dip to share.
Snowshoeing Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
In February I did my first (and apparently only) snowshoe of the year. We went to the top of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain, which is in the Mt. Hood wilderness area. I was slightly apprehensive because the trail climbs just over 1000 feet in elevation, and I hadn’t been hiking as much and snowshoeing generally requires more effort. However, it turns out I was nervous for nothing and it was a great day. Unfortunately, due to snow and cloud cover we didn’t have a rewarding view at the top, but we celebrated at Mt. Hood Brewing instead so it was still a win.
St. Petersburg & wedding weekend
Hands down the highlight of my February was spending a weekend in St. Petersburg, FL for a wedding. I arrived on Friday morning and had been hoping to spend a day at the beach, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was much cooler than I expected. Instead I walked around the downtown area with another friend who was a wedding guest. That night we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner in Clearwater and caught up over drinks. The wedding was on Saturday, and to say it was beautiful is an understatement. This was my first beach wedding, and I loved how laidback and casual everything was. We were all barefoot on the beach during the ceremony, and the couple said their vows as the sun set behind them. This is one of my favorite couples, and I don’t know how to express the magnitude of my happiness for them. After the beach ceremony we enjoyed a fun reception with a good bartender and even better food. I left St. Petersburg the next day with a hangover and sunburn, which feels appropriate.
Just before my last trip to Costa Rica I helped to brew my first beer! It was a fun experience. A week before the brew we spent a night sampling different beers to try to find a style and flavor that we liked. We were aiming for a saison style with orange flavoring, and we came pretty close to that goal. The beer is a little darker and stronger than we anticipated but I think it’s great! The brewing process itself was interesting. It was relatively simple, but the most important thing was timing the ingredients correctly. Last week I was able to taste the beer for the first time and I’m very happy with it. Though it was just a home brew and given current events we might be the only two people to taste it, we decided to give it a name. It is Phil’s Shadow- light in color with notes of orange and spices, this ale isn’t sure which “saison” it belongs in. Traditional holiday tastes carry over into spring the way famous groundhog Phil’s shadow predicts six more weeks of winter.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Just before COVID19 was officially declared a pandemic I enjoyed part of a weekend in and around Costa Rica’s capitol, San Jose. On my first afternoon I spent some time walking around the downtown area; my favorite places were the parks. The next day I woke up early for a guided tour to a coffee farm, a volcano, and a waterfall garden. The coffee farm was very informational; it was my favorite part of the day. The volcano was kind of disappointing because of the weather; cloud cover was so thick that there wasn’t much to see, but that’s just bad luck. The waterfall garden was fun but definitely more oriented toward families. We walked through a mini zoo before walking alongside a waterfall trail. It was a pleasant day, and I’m happy that I was finally able to see more of the country.
In addition to all of the “big” things, I also enjoyed a few movies and books during the first 10 weeks in 2020. Here are a couple of haikus on my favorites.
Beatles don’t exist
The songs are still popular
Don’t sell yourself out
The Starless Sea
Stories, past and present
Mysterious world of books
Time and fate in love
From Russia with Blood
Rich Russian expats
Hunted and murdered abroad
Could they have been saved?
Growing web of lies
Explores class, family, dreams
Best picture winner