done with one

… And, just like that, my first year of graduate school is over.

I’ve rambled at length about the major life change this whole process has been, so I won’t bore you with details or existential questions anymore. I just wanna document some cool things that have happened, complete with poorly/casually-shot iPhone photos. Without further ado…

 

I road tripped to Houston with my mom, sister, and all my worldly possessions packed into a car.

I made my poor family detour for this…

… but then re-routed them to this lovely sight.

 

I watched my cousin get married to his lovely long-term lady friend.

Group hug.

 

I spent many, many late nights in lab – but also made a habit of cultivating gratitude with every walk through my beautiful campus.

A view of James Turrell’s Sky Space against the backdrop of the Med Center.

 

I met up with my Bay Area babes in Austin!

A mural near UT Austin.

A terribly fuzzy photo of our fried dough feast at Gourdough’s.

 

My roommates and I hosted a holiday party, including a canned food drive, charades, and lots of food.

I didn’t take any photos of the party, but you’ll have to take my study buddy Dexter’s word for it: it was fun.

 

I visited California, including my old stomping grounds in San Francisco and Berkeley. Funny how some things change and yet stay the same…

En route to the Bay, we stopped for excellent tacos from Guisados in Los Angeles.

One of my favorite places in the whole wide world: the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

My beautiful former home in Berkeley.

One of my favorite meals in SF, always and forever: tofu jurn at Art’s Cafe.

 

I started to climb with some frequency, sparked by a camping trip to Austin.

Magic light at Reimer’s Ranch.

 

A tree fell on my car. (No damage was sustained. My car was also swiped in a parking lot, but the kind stranger left a note. Yay for automobile accidents working themselves out.)

You can take my California license plates over my dead body.

 

I went to a few concerts, including Ratatat and Gary Clark Jr.

Hard to believe the last time I’d seen Ratatat was a fucking DECADE ago.

 

I hosted wine and taco nights, many times over, for my friends.

I know — this photo is terrible — but the memories are wonderful.

 

I had a little birthday shindig, attended by so many beloved friends.

Cake, beer, and balloons at Axelrad, a beer garden in Houston.

 

I began biking: to and from school, along the bayous, in Critical Mass. I also survived a gnarly fall, coincidentally during which I was riding with three emergency physicians.

My pride and joy, in front of my favorite route.

 

I became a bartender, holding down the fort at my campus pub every Sunday night.

The classiest basement bar there ever was.

 

I won a really excellent fellowship, which will grant me lots of research freedom for the majority of my graduate career. I feel so truly fortunate.

I did it all for the cake (that the university gave me to celebrate)!

 

I explored a few places in Houston:

The Dunlavy, a pretty glass-walled building, sits along the Buffalo Bayou, a beautiful urban space.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a gorgeous temple made entirely out of white marble (and also happens to serve pretty good food, too).

I used to be part of a hiking club, so was elated to find trails in Huntsville an hour north of Houston.

 

I dined out and ate these things:

My favorite salad at Local Foods.

Chocolate and hazelnut decadence at UnderBelly, courtesy of my advisor during our holiday dinner.

A duck confit sandwich at my favorite bougie cafe and bakery, Common Bond.

 

And I cooked these things:

Roasted broccoli, all day/every day.

Tofu curry. I meal-prepped a lot, resulting in one well-loved Instant Pot and fully-stocked freezer.

A casserole lovingly referred to as “Julie Pizza.”

 

I also made time to travel on a budget. I attended my first real conference as a graduate student — hosted in, of all places, my hometown.

As the sole California native, I was obligated to introduce my friends to the splendors of In-N-Out.

 

I visited New Orleans.

My friends and I had an impromptu crawfish boil in beautiful City Park.

Excellent brunch at Surrey’s Cafe & Juice Bar.

 

I also went to Denver.

We hiked quite a bit in the Rockies (pictured) and Garden of the Gods.

Obviously carbo-loading was necessary; this was at Snooze AM Eatery.

 

And, finally, I ended my school year with a trip to New York.

I had A Moment looking out at Manhattan from the Brooklyn waterfront.

I had Another Moment eating pizza at Juliana’s.

 

… And now, here I am, a second-year graduate student with a beautiful, burning summer stretched ahead of me.

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