2021 In Review

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2021 was our first year together as a married couple. And, what a big year it was!

We started off living in Aromas. Fresh from eloping in December 2020, we laid low in Camille's parent's barn. We spent too much time on Zoom (for business and pleasure) and updating documents with our new last name. We did a few exciting things to shake things up, as much as the pandemic would permit: In February, we made a weekend escape to Half Moon Bay. Not long after, Al got his ears pierced at a shop in Santa Cruz.

Cam spent the month of February in an intensive tech interviewing bootcamp (as well as juggling various side projects). Shortly after, her calendar was full with technical phone screens and interviews. Al was asked by his alma mater student organization, the Cognitive Science Student Association, to give a talk on Machine Learning at their annual conference. In addition, he started mentoring several undergraduate students via UCSD's alumni program.

We finished winter with a bang when we got our first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Cam became privy to an opportunity to get early access to doses through Twitter. We made a long, early morning journey out to CSU Bakersfield's mass vaccination clinic, where they had hundreds of extra vaccines.

In April, we had a couple of big changes! For one, we moved into a short term rental in a small town near San Luis Obispo. We didn't do a ton of thinking about where exactly we wanted to go, other than someplace between the Bay Area and Southern California. We were tempted by more far-flung destinations for this few month stint (Austin, Tucson, etc), but ultimately decided that it didn't make sense to physically distance ourselves from friends and family during a pandemic. The place we found was an unpolished but charming unit in a duplex close enough to the ocean to constantly hear the Morro Bay foghorn. We experienced another change just a few days after our move – Camille began a new job working as a software engineer at Earnest, a fully remote fintech company. She spent a really long time working towards this achievement, and you can read about the whole process here. Around this time, Al changed teams at Google! Now, he is working on climate change mitigations full time, focusing on the weather. In his new team, he's learning a lot about meteorology in weekly study groups, and is generally having a lot of fun.

In our new place, we started the tradition of "Wedding Wednesday", where we sit down and plan our wedding celebration, guided by our incredible wedding planner. It's helped us compartmentalize the planning, while still allowing plenty of time to get it done. Although sometimes it has turned into "Wedding Thursday" or "Wedding Maybe-Next-Wednesday", we've tried to keep it up all year!

We spent the rest of the spring and summer exploring our new area, going on walks along the coast, visiting wineries, and finding all the good places to eat and drink. We got our second doses of the Pfizer vaccine in SLO, which was quite a relief. We visited San Diego often, attending both a Ph.D. graduation and a wedding. In July, we flew to Indiana to visit family and celebrate Camille's grandma's 90th birthday. We walked through corn fields and ate corn dogs, as one should on the 4th of July.

We were lucky enough to have some good friends visit us in our little town on the Central Coast. We each had family reunions, in San Diego and in Aromas. It's always sweet to see our families, but was made extra sweet by how much time had passed. We also made a couple of trips up to the Bay Area, where we got to meet our teams for the first time, visit some of our old Oakland haunts and visit friends. Camille also made a trip to Fresno (of all places!) to buy her wedding dress with one of her bridesmaids.

As summer wound down, we made grand plans to spend the autumn traveling. We aimed to visit the Pacific Northwest in September for Camille to attend her company summit in Seattle, followed by a month in New York. Realizing that we were going to spend only two of the next eight weeks in California, we decided to let our lease lapse at the end of August. We loved having the chance to stay in that town and hope to go back there someday. It was the perfect size for us, had an incredible local food scene and we will always remember it as the first place we ever had on our own without roommates or family.

Although we can hardly be surprised at this point, our travel plans were changed due to COVID. Cam's summit was switched to a remote format due to a surge in COVID cases in the area. We opted to get refunds for our travel expenses, and then went to San Diego as a sort of consolation trip. This afforded Al the opportunity to buy his wedding suit with a few of his groomspeople.

Not all our travel plans fell short: We were lucky enough to spend the month of October in New York City! We booked a VRBO in the East Village of Manhattan (making sure to find a place with a good cancellation policy, just in case). Little did we know that our place of stay was right in the middle of the party – Saint Marks Place, near NYU. We literally exited our cab from the airport right into a hopping Saturday night street, dragging our suitcases next to enveloping music and packed bars with people in their best going-out clothes.

What an adventure New York was! Some highlights:

In the middle of the month, we escaped the city to a cabin in the Catskills with three other couples. We had a blast! It rained, so we mainly did cozy cabin activities, including group cooking and board games, but we snuck in a beautiful hike through the fall leaves. They're just as breathtaking as everybody says!

We wrapped up our trip by celebrating Halloween hard with some costumes pulled together from second hand stores. In addition to going out on the town, we got to see the East Village Halloween parade and watch the movie Psycho at the Angelika theater, of course with a street slice pit stop in between.

We got back to California right after the big rainstorm and were shocked that fall had arrived while we were gone. We got our feet back underneath ourselves, then drove down to San Diego. We spent some time there wedding planning, celebrating Al's mom's birthday, and getting tons of our family and friends together for a big Thanksgiving dinner. We had a wonderful time cooking, hosting and overfilling everyone's drinks. We also attended Alex's consolation 10 year high school reunion, which he planned.

In December we celebrated our first anniversary (Already?? Can you believe it?) with a weekend getaway in Los Alamos, California, a small town not far from where we had lived over the summer. We stayed in a little cabin on someone's property, which was a perfect homebase for the weekend of antiquing, wine tasting and eating that we had planned. We spent some time on Sunday reflecting on our first year of marriage, then headed to LA to meet up with Camille's brother's family. We visited a couple of apartments in the area, then signed a lease (only 7 months, we aren't that settled) for a place in Pasadena, to start just after Christmas.

As is tradition, we went to Yosemite for Christmas with Camille's side of the family. This year, Alex's dad got to join us! Highlights include a hike in the snow, poker games in the Ahwahnee solarium and "spa Yosemite" where Camille was tasked with braiding hair.

We couldn't let the year end without squeezing in one more move (that's three in 2021, for those of you keeping track at home - the wonders of remote work!), so we relocated to our Pasadena apartment on December 27, with the help of Camille's parents (thank you SO much, Jay & Crystal!!). We settled as much as we could for a few days before taking a trip back up to Santa Cruz to celebrate the New Year with Camille's friends. Since then, we've spent our time scouring Craigslist for cool vintage finds for the apartment (there's this seriously unreal lamp), setting up a projector for movie nights and arguing over the appropriate tone for this year-end letter.

We had an eventful 2021, full of new places, reunions and canceled plans. We are so grateful that we get to share our lives with you, receiver of our new years card. Here's to brighter times in 2022 and beyond!


Camille & Alex

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