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In Life on
November 7, 2017

a five-year plan?

I like to think 5 year plans are a lot like climbing a giant foothill of a giant mountain. See above for reference.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of hard thinking about how I want to spend the next few years. It’s no secret that I felt incredibly listless and lost after graduation – I really didn’t take any time to consider long-term goals before moving halfway across the country and taking a job. Just ten days passed between graduation and my first day here in D.C.

In a way, I’m a little grateful for the jump start because I feel like I did hit the ground running – yes, I’m still figuring out the best way to balance my budget, and I may not be the most efficient planner, but I’m getting there, and figuring it out. I’ll figure it out on my way there, and maybe that’ll be half the fun.

But for a while, it felt like everyone I knew was still interviewing, or applying to graduate school, or attending graduate school, or already had their dream job. I’m also open about not being sold on D.C. when I moved here. I wasn’t completely sure about staying in the city.

Now, I feel like I have a firm grasp on my plan, and what I want to accomplish. I used to struggle with prioritizing, but it seems like it might be all falling into place as I focus on what brings me excitement and joy.

How did I figure it out (kind of)? I know the phrase “what do you love?” comes up a lot during these discussions, but I also have issues of “can I do that and still be productive at my day job?” and “will that eventually help me pay rent?”

I think the key to developing any kind of plan (5-year, 10-year, whatever) is to brutally honest with yourself. Here are some questions I asked:

  • Do you really want that, or has it just been a goal you’ve had since high school?
  • Are you good at that? Will you have to work twice as hard as everyone else to be good at that? Are you willing to?
  • What’s important to you? What are your values? What are the “non-negotiables” in life? (For me, it’s maintaining a work-life balance most of the time. Not all the time, but most.)
  • What is this going to cost? Both in $$$, but also time? Are you willing to spend 3+ years in part-time grad school to pay less every semester, or can you take out more loans and knock it out in 1-2 full time years?
  • What kind of life do you want to have? What kind of lifestyle is important to you?

These questions, ultimately, are NO FUN. Until, for me, they became kind of fun. The scariest part about these questions are the very real consequences they pose for your plans and goals. For me, it was a little empowering to get away from everyone I knew, sit down with just myself, and figure out what’s important to me, myself, and I. I realized that I had spent too long factoring other people into my goals. Maybe I’ll share the plan I developed, maybe not. I hope this helps you at least stop feeling so lost if you’re like me, and set you up on a path of intentional goal-setting.

(Wow, look at that last line, who am I)

In Life on
October 23, 2017

the wharf

“Okay, but it’s so nice!

This was the refrain that my boyfriend and I uttered over and over again as we explored the newly developed Wharf area on D.C.’s Anacostia waterfront. We had both seen the projected drawings and read about the development with mild curiosity, but when the time came to actually explore around the area, I’m not sure we knew what to expect.

Of course, construction was still finishing up, and it’s clear that the interiors of some buildings need to be finished, but all in all, it’s a beautiful addition to the D.C. waterfront.

There are two or three piers that jut out into the Anacostia River, and here you can see the floating water gardens (so cool!) next to the pier.

We caught the Wharf at sunset, and it was a perfect way to spend a balmy fall Friday night.

Pearl Street Warehouse is one of two music venues in the new development, and has a gorgeous bar next to an intimate stage setting – it would be perfect for a smaller show. The other is The Anthem, owned and operating by the same people as legendary D.C. venue the 9:30 Club. There was a show the night we were walking by, and the environment was fun and electric.

Of the new restaurants in the area, there’s so much to pick from, especially by D.C. heavy hitters: Blue Bottle Coffee (still trying to get to the Georgetown location – it’s so far from my new place! If anyone wants to go, please let me know, maybe I need an accountability friend), Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi (Mallorcan food, so help me God), Dolcezza Gelato, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Kith and Kin (Carribbean), Kirwan’s Irish Pub, Lupo Marino (Italian), Potomac Distilling, Rappahannock Oyster Company, The Brighton (from Brixton founders), and more. There’s something for everyone, and every price point.

All in all, if you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, check out the Wharf, especially in a few months, or in the spring, as more shops open and the weather warms. You won’t want to miss it.

In Life on
October 17, 2017

fall bucket list

In honor of (one of) the greatest seasons with one of the shortest shelf lives, here’s what I plan to get up to this fall:

  • Watch playoff baseball at a local bar (Go Cubbies!)
  • Make spiked apple cider
  • Frolic in one of D.C.’s many public lands
  • Finally grab a cup of coffee at the new Blue Bottle in Georgetown
  • Get out of the city on a fall hike
  • Start my own sourdough starter*
  • Buy some cute fall booties
  • Hand out candy on Halloween + watch spooky movies (Hocus Pocus anyone?)

What are you going to do this fall? Let me know in the comments, and if you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, send me some ideas!

*Look, I started this, and it’s really not going well. It smells weird. It’s really goopy. I don’t know guys. I may not be a good sourdough starter mom.

In Life on
October 10, 2017

health = happiness (??)

Several weeks ago, after a routine ear infection, I started feeling off. Something wasn’t right. I was dealing with routine infections I don’t normally get, along with some awesome fatigue. After a trip or two to my doctor, I left with the knowledge that something I thought would be a quick fix would end up taking a month or more of treatment, testing, appointments, and medication.

I hate being on medication – I dislike timing my pills, remembering to keep especially sensitive pills at the right temperature, and I especially dislike the side effects. I couldn’t drink alcohol, which was hard to explain at parties and nights out. Often, I was nauseous, unfocused, and just tired. I was tired of feeling crappy as the weeks and doctor’s appointments dragged on, and tired of having to take it easy, take it slow, especially as summer wound down and I was trying to squeeze every last sunset out on a rooftop.

I’m now at (I think) the end of this saga, and if you’re like me, dealing with medical issues that can be a little all-consuming, there are some things you can do to protect your mental health while you tend to your physical health:

  1. Do all of your favorite things (that you can): For me, this is bubble baths, and lingering giant cups of coffee in the morning, and yoga. I bought a giant bag of Starbursts that lives on my kitchen counter for bad days. This is just something you do.
  2. Eat well: For a while, I just wanted to hole up in bed and eat chicken nuggets and pretend like this wasn’t happening. But it was, and the best way to feel good about myself was to buy some healthy groceries (to be balanced, remember, by the Starburst) and meal-prep some easy meals for the week. That way, when I was exhausted post-work and taking more pills, I could just pop something in the microwave.
  3. (Try) to exercise: Okay, I did not do this every day. Far from it. Aside from being barred from “strenuous activity” I was usually uncomfortable most of the time anyway, so running did not appeal to me. Yoga became my savior, as it often is. Body weight exercises did, too. But, man, you can’t beat endorphins for a mood boost. Staying active also keeps your body in tip-top shape, even when you feel like you’re not.
  4. Stay present: Worrying about the outcome of the next test, or if this prescription will finally work, or if you’re doing something wrong, can take the happiness out of a moment. Yes, you should pay attention to your symptoms (I kept a little symptom log in the Notes app on my phone), but don’t let it consume you. As long as you’re staying on top of it, you’re doing your best. This is the hardest advice for me to take, but it’s definitely saved weekends and nights where I would otherwise have obsessed about my heath.

I hope these help if you’re dealing with an illness or issue, too. Hopefully we’ll all get through this together! I’m certainly rooting for you.


In Life on
October 2, 2017

Seattle, pt. 2

My second and third days in Seattle were much different than the first. I spent most of Friday walking around Queen Anne Hill and then down by Lake Union to see the houseboats and seaplanes there. Since I really want to discuss the hike (that was the best part of the trip by far), I’ll just link you to the custom Google map I made of my travels, embedded below- that way, you can see where I ambled throughout Queen Anne Hill on the second day! Don’t forget to zoom in and scroll around, and hover over the little pin-points – I left some recommendations for you!

Sarah was kind enough to take me on a trail at Mt. Ranier National Park that she had done previously and deal with my huffing and puffing up the mountain. Altitude change is no joke! We hiked the Summerland Trail toward the Panhandle Gap and it had, aside from a great lower body workout, amazing views of Little Tahoma, Mt. Ranier, and Fryingpan Creek.

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In Life on
September 20, 2017

seattle, pt. 1

Over Labor Day, I hauled myself up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 AM, hopped on an Amtrak train to BWI and somehow survived a 5-hour flight next to a man with extremely long legs. What’s awesome about traveling westward is that you essentially get all of the time you spent on the plane back – which I love. So I took advantage of the time, and met Sarah (my best bud, soul friend, life force) for lunch a little north of downtown Seattle, and then proceeded to explore downtown, and up into Queen Anne the next day. I’ll write more about our hike around the foothills of Mount Rainer (holy hills) but for now, I hope you like these photos!

One thing I can say: buy an ORCA card. If you’re familiar with DC’s transit system, it’s literally almost the exact same as a SmarTrip card. An ORCA card is reloadable, costs around $2, and works on all buses, trolleys, etc, except the metrorail. It also works on the LightLink, which is the Seattle underground/above-ground transit system.

Sarah works literally one block from the Space Needle.

I ended up buying a daypack the week before the trip while picking up my hiking boots at REI. It’s the Co-op Flash 22 Pack, and it was supremely helpful both in hauling groceries home after my trip and serving as my personal item on all of my flights and travel. It’s super light, held up really well in the Seattle rain (phone was in an exterior pocket and didn’t get soaked from the city’s traditional mist). I also primarily used it as my daypack when Sarah and I went hiking, and it was the perfect size for a water bottle or two, an outer layer, granola bars, phone, keys, wallet.

Seattle really quenched my thirst for a huge city again. I hate admitting it, but I miss Chicago’s skyscrapers, and I miss the way the river cuts right up against the riverwalk. Seattle really felt similar to Chicago in that way – it’s right on the Sound, and while I’m sure the skyscrapers downtown aren’t the main draw, they made me feel happy for some reason.

I immediately headed here as soon as I landed because 1) the weather was sucky and I figured it wouldn’t be crowded, and 2) I was curious! I’ve only seen photos!

It was extremely crowded, and the sun came out right as I got there, so it was hot and sweaty and a little claustrophobic. But I’m still glad I went.

In addition to the main market, which you’ve probably seen photos of, there are also levels of the market down below as well. I found a cute little vintage mug shop down there, and almost caved and bought the Mt. St. Helens mug.

Post Alley is an alley right next to Pike Place, and is also filled with cute-but-touristy shops. Worth an amble.

One of my other goals for my first day in Seattle was to get as close to the water as physically possible. Mission accomplished.

After making it downtown, I headed over to Pioneer Square to get a cup of coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House and to make some personal phone calls – it was nice to take a break from walking. Sarah recommended Pioneer Square, and I’m so glad she did. The area is one of the oldest in Seattle, and has all of these giant green trees and old shopfronts.

This is pretty much where day one ended because I just walked back to meet Sarah for dinner. Day 2 + 3 are coming soon, and I’m working on an interactive Google Map showing you around the city from my point of view. Stay tuned!

In Life on
September 12, 2017

what 9/11 means to me

I struggle, always, to write about 9/11. It’s not because I knew anyone in the towers (I didn’t) or because I had an experience with someone who did (I haven’t). I was in Disneyworld. I was 7.  While it is a bizarre story, I still have a story in the same way everyone else does; where they were when they learned about the news, and who they were with and what they were doing. My aunt is the only person I know who knew people who died in the attack on the Pentagon. We visited their names at the memorial in New York City. We paid our respects. Then, we left.

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In Life on
June 19, 2017

mind your gap

Anybody in a creative-leaning field has seen it:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. (Ira Glass)

Have you looked at your gap?

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In Life, Link Roundups on
May 29, 2017

easy like (23)

(I feel like your birthday should hold all of your favorite things, and this is mine: sunrise on a rooftop in Rome. That’s the Vatican in the distance.) I wrote a whole other post for this day, but upon re-reading it, it just didn’t fit. #Typical.

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