January in CA

The first month of 2017 has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me - I spent 2 weeks seriously ill with a mystery virus, and the other 2 weeks emotionally fraught over the state of our nation... Thankfully I did get a few weekends of R&R to take my mind off things.

One weekend I travelled to Lake Tahoe, after a week of heavy rain in the Bay Area, which led to the most beautiful snow I have ever seen in America. Another weekend I flew to LA, on a temperate weekend, to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Here are some photos from both trips. 

My friends and I were shocked to wake up to this magical view of Lake Tahoe from our bedroom window.  We stayed at an Airbnb cabin about ~10 min drive from Heavenly resort.

My friends and I were shocked to wake up to this magical view of Lake Tahoe from our bedroom window.  We stayed at an Airbnb cabin about ~10 min drive from Heavenly resort.

While looking at the lake we noticed there was a ship floating, not moving, perfectly framed in between a row of trees.  

While looking at the lake we noticed there was a ship floating, not moving, perfectly framed in between a row of trees.  

On the other side of the weather spectrum was LA. I ventured to Schabarum Park, where cherry blossoms trees were in bloom (frankly I didn't even know that was possible in California!).

On the other side of the weather spectrum was LA. I ventured to Schabarum Park, where cherry blossoms trees were in bloom (frankly I didn't even know that was possible in California!).

While walking along the park I stumbled upon a stable of horses. I love how diverse this park is, with its massive cacti growing just a few hundred meters from the cherry blossoms.

While walking along the park I stumbled upon a stable of horses. I love how diverse this park is, with its massive cacti growing just a few hundred meters from the cherry blossoms.

We watched as the horses fed on bales of hay. They didn't seem to notice the camera!

We watched as the horses fed on bales of hay. They didn't seem to notice the camera!

Almost all the visitors had the same idea as me and were taking photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms. 

Almost all the visitors had the same idea as me and were taking photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms. 

Jenn

Fall in NYC

In November I spent 5-days in NYC. It was a memorable trip full of unexpected surprises. I wrote up a separate blog post about my surreal experience at the 'Hamilton' show with Mike Pence (link here). Here are a couple of my favorite shots from the trip - all taken with a Fujifilm X100T. 

Fall was in full swing in NYC. Trees bursting in dark hues of red, orange, and green were a welcome sight to a girl unaccustomed to visible seasons.

Fall was in full swing in NYC. Trees bursting in dark hues of red, orange, and green were a welcome sight to a girl unaccustomed to visible seasons.

I walked the Brooklyn bridge one evening in near freezing weather, and snapped this photo of cars speeding under the bridge. 

I walked the Brooklyn bridge one evening in near freezing weather, and snapped this photo of cars speeding under the bridge. 

One of my favorite neighborhoods to visit is Greenwich Village, the college town home to NYU. Murray's Cheese is at the heart of the district; its owners have been selling cheese in the New York since 1940!

One of my favorite neighborhoods to visit is Greenwich Village, the college town home to NYU. Murray's Cheese is at the heart of the district; its owners have been selling cheese in the New York since 1940!

With its bustling halls and rumble of trains underground, Grand Central Station is a great reminder that New York is "the city that never sleeps." I took this 30 second shutter speed photo in order to capture the transience of people coming and going in the station. 

With its bustling halls and rumble of trains underground, Grand Central Station is a great reminder that New York is "the city that never sleeps." I took this 30 second shutter speed photo in order to capture the transience of people coming and going in the station. 

The 9/11 Memorial was a deeply moving tribute. The groundskeepers place a flower in the victims' names on their birthdays.

The 9/11 Memorial was a deeply moving tribute. The groundskeepers place a flower in the victims' names on their birthdays.

I actually gasped when I first saw "Washington Crossing the Delaware ." I tried to capture the scale of the painting by showing the surrounding room and museum-goers, but no picture could do it justice.

I actually gasped when I first saw "Washington Crossing the Delaware ." I tried to capture the scale of the painting by showing the surrounding room and museum-goers, but no picture could do it justice.

Chef Thomas Keller's signature dish at Per Se - oysters and caviar. My favorite dish from the three hour dining experience.

Chef Thomas Keller's signature dish at Per Se - oysters and caviar. My favorite dish from the three hour dining experience.

I stayed near Midtown at the Refinery Hotel. It was easy to roam the streets at night and take in the popular sights, such as Rockefeller Center.

I stayed near Midtown at the Refinery Hotel. It was easy to roam the streets at night and take in the popular sights, such as Rockefeller Center.

I'm not usually a fan of views from famous buildings, as most cities look the same from high up. However the view from the Empire State Building was something special.

I'm not usually a fan of views from famous buildings, as most cities look the same from high up. However the view from the Empire State Building was something special.

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Jenn

Hamilton vs. Pence

I’ve been obsessed with the musical ‘Hamilton’ for months. A friend of mine played through the entire soundtrack on a recent road trip and I was instantly hooked. Knowing this, my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to a Friday evening showing in NYC for our three-year anniversary.

We arrived at the Richard Rodgers theater around 7:20PM for the 8PM show, and there was already a line sprawled across the entire block. The excitement in the air was tangible as we shuffled into the theater and made our way to our seats.

While flipping through the playbill, I overheard a gentleman behind me saying something about the Secret Service. I’m not usually one to eavesdrop, but I turned around and blurted out “Did I just hear you say Secret Service?!”

The gentleman told us he had just been to a restaurant nearby and Mike Pence turned up. The VP-elect was coming to see Hamilton. My jaw dropped and I immediately scanned the crowd for any sign of Pence (there was none). I was just beginning to think the gentleman was wrong when I heard a huge wave of claps and boos. I knew it must be Mike Pence so I turned on my iPhone and immediately started recording:

After the ‘enthusiastic’ crowd response I thought “wow, that’s crazy”, and figured that was the end of that. Boy, was I wrong!

I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack end-to-end probably around five times. Somehow, I’ve never noticed how politically relevant the lyrics are. But with Mike Pence in the audience, and the audience hyper-aware of that fact, it seemed like every other song had a lyric directed at him.

Here are a couple of lines from the show where the crowd burst out applauding and the actors needed to pause the performance. Note: Mild spoilers ahead for those avoiding the Hamilton plot:

  • Hamilton & Lafayette greeting each other on the battlefield:
    • “Immigrants. We get the job done.”
  • King George III after America wins the Revolution. Props to the actor for handling a hard situation (four interruptions in one song!) like a champ:
    • “What comes next… Do you know how hard it is to lead?”
    • “You’re on your own, awesome, wow. Do you have a clue what happens now?”
    • “Oceans rise, empires fall. It’s much harder when it’s all your call”
    • “When your people say they hate you…”

After the show was over, the actors skipped the usual curtain call and came together as one to make an announcement. The actor who portrayed Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, made a speech to Pence directly in a statement that has since gone viral. The unconventional curtain call was the cap to an undoubtedly unconventional show.

Being in that audience was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. I was devastated by the outcome of the election, and ‘Hamilton’ was something that reminded me about the greatness of our nation and the diverse entity it has evolved into. Seeing the ‘Hamilton’ cast collide with our new administration in such a raw and serendipitous way was... surreal. That’s the only word I can think of to describe it.

I feel very fortunate to have been in that audience and to have seen first-hand the intense collision of these two worlds. I knew in the moment I was witnessing something the world had to see. And I have to echo Michelle Obama’s sentiments when she said “[Hamilton] was simply… the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.