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Jess Answers the Cupcakes and Cashmere Post-Quarantine Questionnaire

International adventures and an epic Halloween display await...
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Living in the U.S. currently feels like an alternate reality. As stores, restaurants, and businesses open back up, it's tough to ignore the state of rest of the world that hasn't been as fortunate and the massive number of people who have yet to be vaccinated. Any sense of relief I feel seems to always be followed up by dread, and quite a bit of guilt. If you've experienced something similar and have the means, join me in setting up recurring donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which supports WHO’s work, and will help suppress transmission, reduce exposure, counter misinformation, protect the vulnerable, reduce mortality and morbidity and accelerate equitable access to new COVID-19 tools.

While I've spent the majority of the last year hunkered down and distracting myself with home improvements, I'm working to find a new normal. As an introvert, re-entering the world post-quarantine feels challenging, both socially and mentally, and I'm easing myself back into friend dates and events at a pace I'm comfortable with. I know how lucky we are to be able to resume a portion of our "normal lives," and while these new commitments come with a side of guilt, I also don't want to waste the opportunities I do have.

An image that embodies where you'd like to be this year? 

If you've ever been to O'Hare, you know this spot very well.

If you've ever been to O'Hare, you know this spot very well.

I missed the chance to get to travel...literally anywhere...with my partner and/or family. There's nothing better than the anticipatory excitement at the airport just after landing at your destination. Justin's face captures the feeling that adventure awaits in this photo, and I'm really excited to have that again during some upcoming domestic (and eventually international) trips we have planned.

Where's the first national/international trip you'd like to take? I recently returned from a trip to Hawaii that was utterly blissful, and I'm still riding the high from it. A few cities are on the agenda for upcoming weddings, but aside from those, I'm mainly looking forward to visiting my sister who moved to Portland a few months ago (and obviously getting the opportunity to see Leslie and meet Toast!).

What's your indoor post-pandemic fantasy? Attending my favorite Pilates studio (Platinum Pilates) sans mask. Never realized how sweaty my face got while exercising until I had a mask to absorb it all (ick!). 

What's one thing you "hated" pre-quarantine that you love now? I wouldn't say I hated them since I'd never seen them, but I've converted to become a huge Marvel fan after watching the movies in chronological order. The time at home gave me plenty of nights to power through all the available films on Disney+ (plus "WandaVision," of course), and now can admit that I get it. And I still wouldn't consider myself a drinker, but my newfound affinity for natural wine has taken over our garage fridge. 

Any quarantine habits you plan to apply to post-quarantine? Daily walks. Kelly and I began doing an afternoon loop together on FaceTime back in March 2020, and they're typically the highlight of the day. A little bit of exercise and sunshine goes a long way in boosting my mood—so much so that I've also incorporated a morning walk into my routine as well. 

What's a hobby you took up in quarantine you plan to continue post-quarantine? I challenged myself to cook my way through a few cookbooks, and it's some of the most fun I've ever had in the kitchen. As someone who constantly Googles for recipes, it was a welcome change of pace and wound up introducing me to foods I discovered and now love, but never would have tried otherwise (this flavorful curry by Meera Sodha being one of them).

How did you grow and change over COVID? Primarily, it shifted my perspective on equity and really opened my eyes to the immense privilege I have in my life, from my (and my loved ones') health, to my steady job, to my geographical location.

Any big travel plans that were cancelled during quarantine? A trip to Paris and London with my sister that I was really looking forward to (we've never taken an international trip alone, and as life gets busier, we knew it would only get tougher to find the time). Hoping we'll be able to make up for it in 2022.

Aside from eating indoors and seeing friends, what not-obvious indoor activity do you miss most? Is it weird to say bowling? Have to admit it's one of my favorite activities. Aside from that, luxuriating at the grocery store, going up and down every single aisle (a habit that Justin would be thrilled for me to have left behind in 2019).

Are you buying anything in anticipation of post-quarantine? New luggage! When I went to pack for Hawaii, I used Justin's old, tattered carry-on from 2011 and thought to myself, "It's probably time I invest in a not-hand-me-down suitcase for all the upcoming travel." 

Any concert/event plans? ...the moment Taylor Swift announces her Lover-meets-folklore-meets-evermore blowout concert/festival, tickets will be acquired. Aside from that, I can't wait to see a few Broadway musicals and obviously take a trip to Disneyland.

What is the one thing you're most excited for in 2021? Trick-or-treating on Halloween! We bought our house in March 2020, and one of the things I'd looked forward to most was cementing our home as the place to get the best candy assortment and to have the most epic decorations in the neighborhood (this has been a weird fantasy of mine since childhood). It wasn't possible last October, so now I'm dead set on it. And we may or may not be thinking about bringing home a sibling for Mimi, our cat, to make the post-quarantine adjustment to being home without us a little less lonely...

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